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Twelve Angry Men

by Reginald Rose
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What time of day and part of year is it when Sidney Lumet's film version of Twelve Angry Men begins?

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Reginald Rose’s screenplay for Twelve Angry Men, the filmed version of which was directed by the late Sidney Lumet, takes place during a hot summer day in “a large Eastern city.”  When the film begins, it appears to be late afternoon, the jury having just spent its sixth day listening to testimony and arguments regarding the guilt or innocence of a 19-year-old Hispanic man accused in the stabbing death of his father.  The time of year is established by early, repeated references to the heat, as when, at the very beginning, Juror 7 states the following:

“NO. 7: (to NO. 6). Y' know something? It's hot. (NO. 6 nods.) You'd think they'd at least air condition the place.  I almost dropped dead in court.

 [NO. 7 opens the window a bit wider.]”

From this bit of dialogue, the viewer knows it is hot inside the courthouse.  The opening of the window indicates that it is not the middle of winter, with the building’s furnace working too hard.  That the story occurs during the summer, however, is indicated by the cold-stricken comment by Juror 10:

“NO.10: (blowing). A lulu. These hot-weather colds can kill you.”

It is now firmly established, early in the film, that it is summer.  The time of day is partly assumed by virtue of the level of heat referenced in the above-quoted statements, and by the inference that the argument phase of the trial has concluded and the case now rests with the jury.  While the time of day can logically be inferred by these indications, and by Juror 7’s declaration that he has evening plans (“Right. This better be fast.' I've got tickets to The Seven Year Itch tonight”), the most concrete indication that the story begins in the late afternoon occurs about an hour into the film, with the following exchange between Jurors 2 and 11:

“NO. 2: What time is it?

 NO. 11: Ten minutes of six.

 NO. 2: It's late.”

From these bits of dialogue, it can be concluded that Twelve Angry Men begins around 4:00 or 5:00 p.m., and that it is summer in the city.

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