Sunday, 10 April 2011

Twelve Angry Men

Fantasy Bob hopes his readers will excuse him a small departure from the wacky world of cricket.  Lapsed film buff that he is, FB is sad to note the death of director Sidney Lumet.  Though maybe not in the ranks of the greatest of the great directors, Lumet made a number of Test match quality offerings and overall his volume of work is high class including a number of his favourite crime procedurals Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and Q&A.  Network is also a fine effort.  You can smell the sweat and grime in each of these. But his greatest movie, and certainly FB's pick, is Twelve Angry Men (1957).  Test match quality through and through.

Fonda and Cobb - a classic confrontation
But Lumet was no cricketer and cricket did not feature in his work.   This is confirmed by the title of his greatest work, Twelve Angry Men was just one angry man too many. 
Instead Twelve Angry Men is the definitive court room and jury room drama in which juror number 8 - Henry Fonda - through persistence and rational argument persuades his 11 co-jurors to review their presumption of guilt and return a not guilty verdict.  One by one he overcomes their resistance and resentment - particularly of juror number 3 - Lee J Cobb.  A film very much of its day showing its post war liberal conscience under its hem - one right thinking man can overcome prejudice and laziness to bring about what is right.  All manner of management consultants have plundered it for teaching points about persuasion and negotiation and consensus building.  But it has survived.  What chance a movie that relies so centrally on rational argument with no special effects or no love interest being made in today's T20 world?

FB also commends warmly the splendid 1959 pastiche of the movie by Tony Hancock in which he takes on the Fonda role.  Pleading with his uninterested fellow jurors he reminds them of the springs of British justice with the immortal line:
'Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you?  Did she die in vain?'
Test Match Quality.

Sidney Lumet RIP.
Anthony Aloysius Hancock
in Fonda pose


  1. A courtroom full of Wayne Rooneys - what a thought.

  2. A fine image - even if the calm rational basis of juror 8's arguments might be strained if played by a Rooney.