The World Was His Jury


1h 22m 1958
The World Was His Jury

Brief Synopsis

An ambitious defense attorney fights to clear a sea captain whose negligence caused a deadly wreck.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Trial of Captain Barrett
Genre
Drama
Release Date
Feb 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Clover Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m

Synopsis

Following the unexpected death of the captain of the cruise ship S.S. Paradise , First Officer Jerry Barrett is appointed interim captain. On the night before the ship is scheduled to dock in New York, Barrett hosts a captain's dinner in the ballroom. As he dances with one of the passengers, a dull roar rumbles through the ship, signaling an explosion. After Barrett hurries to the ship's bridge to investigate, the passengers discover that the ship is on fire. On his way to the bridge, Barrett is briefly incapacitated by falling debris, and consequently, his first officer, the fatherly Martin Ranker, momentarily assumes command. After regaining his equilibrium, Barrett orders Ranker to launch the lifeboats. Although 162 people perish in the disaster, the majority of the crew and passengers are rescued by a passing ship. Upon reaching New York, Barrett is charged with gross negligence and found guilty by a maritime review board that recommends he be prosecuted for manslaughter. To limit their liability, the steamship company that employs Barrett hires crack attorney David Carson to defend him. When Carson and his private investigator Tony Armand interview Barrett, however, Barrett offers little in his own defense, other than stating that his crew acted carelessly. On the first day of the trial, at Carson's behest, Barrett's wife Polly, son Jimmy and daughter Jane appear in the courtroom to win sympathy for Barrett. As his first witness, District Attorney Wendell calls the marine engineer in charge of the fire investigation. When the engineer implies that Barrett's negligence was evidenced by the fact that he left the ship's papers behind to be consumed by the fire, Carson undermines his testimony by forcing him to admit that he never served at sea and is therefore incapable of judging the solemnity of leaving the papers behind. After court is adjourned for the day, Barrett joins his family in the courthouse hallway. There the crazed, bereaved husband of one of the victims fires a gun at Barrett and calls him a murderer. Once the man is apprehended, Barrett bars his children from the courtroom. The next day, under Wendell's questioning, the ship's second officer testifies that Barrett's behavior at the time of the explosion suggested he was drunk. After the trial adjourns for the morning, Carson takes his wife Robin to lunch. At the restaurant, Robin declares that she is ashamed of her husband for freeing criminals and asks him to withdraw from the Barrett case. When Carson replies that he believes in Barrett's innocence, Robin announces that she is leaving him. When the trial resumes, Martinez, one of the fifty-seven seamen hired by Ranker at Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, takes the stand to testify about Barrett's laxness in disciplining the crew. Carson then undercuts Martinez' testimony by exposing that he is an ex-convict and that he falsified his records. After the court recesses for the day, Tony follows Martinez to a tenement building. Soon after, a man wearing a naval uniform leaves the building and drives off in a cab. Tony then enters and finds Martinez stabbed to death. The next day in court, Carson forces another seaman to admit that he presented falsified employment qualifications, then reveals that most of the crew who signed on in Port-Au-Prince presented fraudulent credentials. Upon learning about the falsified records, Robin returns to apologize for misjudging her husband. When Ranker takes the stand, the D.A. initiates a line of questioning that leads Ranker to testify that Barrett was responsible for the disaster. During his cross-examination, Carson questions Ranker's judgment for hiring a crew carrying false documents, then reveals that Martinez, one of the men hired by Ranker, had been convicted of arson. Next, Carson reads several performance evaluations from Ranker's previous captains, each of whom state that Ranker resented graduates from the Marine Academy and suffered from a violent temper. Under Carson's goading, Ranker, a forty-year sea veteran, admits that he was passed over for the position of captain of the Paradise in favor of Barrett, a graduate of the Marine Academy. Carson then accuses Ranker of hiring Martinez to set fire to the ship to discredit Barrett, then killing Martinez to prevent him from testifying. When Carson states that the cab driver identified Ranker as the man he drove to Martinez' building, Ranker breaks down on the stand and confesses. Sobbing, Ranker asserts that he never meant for the fire to destroy the ship and kill 162 people. After Barret is exonerated and reinstated as chief officer, he and his family visit the Carsons to offer their thanks.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Trial of Captain Barrett
Genre
Drama
Release Date
Feb 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Clover Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was The Trial of Captain Barrett. Although July 1957 Hollywood Reporter news items add Walter Maslow, Matt Lorenz, Lynn Story and Scott Peters to the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1958

Released in United States February 1958

Released in United States 1958

Released in United States February 1958