Twelve Angry Potatoes

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Lady Justice is blind, and everyone thinks that's a good thing. But CP wonders: Wouldn't she move a lot faster if she could see where the hell she was going?

To wit, one week in the land of the "quick and speedy trial":

Jurors in the trial of Theodore Kaczynski have gone away hungry five days straight--and will be gone at least a week more--all because Ted refuses to be downgraded from "mad genius" to "raving lunatic" in the public eye.

Well, CP's idea of speedy justice is considerably more literal: two hours that whiz by in no time. So to the Kaczynski jury, CP gives the gift of efficient plotting: In Witness for the Prosecution (1957), round-bodied and sharp-tongued Charles Laughton huffs through suspect interviews, witness preparation and flashback scenes at record speed--then knifes through a Gordian murder trial in something like two days. Laughton's one-liners pull a great cast through the maze toward a surprise ending which gets you both coming and going. And coming. You won't need an intermission.

Across the Rockies, Terry Nichols was convicted--sort of--for planning to maybe kill a few of the people that died in the Oklahoma City bombing three years ago. But the jury that finally reached that decision couldn't finish the job. Nichols will live, at least until he gets to the OK state, where lines at the rope store are already around the block. To the Nichols jury CP gives the gift of empathy, to view while sorting though hate mail from the victims' families: Twelve Angry Men (1957). The quintessential judicial set-piece, right down to the chess-board imagery on the courtroom floor. Sidney Lumet packs Henry Fonda, Jack Klugman and a truckload of dialogue into one jury room, but a crackling pace keeps the melodrama tighter than a Herrmann score. Pay yourself $15 and lunch to stay home and watch it.

Rewind, or be held in contempt. Happy viewing.