Analysis of a Scene XXI: Chisholm and Daley Outside the Courthouse

George Cole: Film and television legend.  22 April 1925 – 5 August 2015

George Cole: Film and television legend. 22 April 1925 – 5 August 2015

RFodchuk and I were very saddened to learn of the death of one of Britain’s most beloved actors, George Cole.  He is probably best known for playing ‘spiv’ type characters such as Flash Harry and our Mr. Chisholm’s nemesis Arthur Daley, but Mr. Cole has a had a very long and varied career playing a multitude of characters.  No wonder he and Patrick Malahide were always clicking with amazing chemistry in every scene they had together in Minder.

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage  Mandatory Credit: Photo by Everett/REX Shutterstock (652780a)  'Blue Murder at St Trinian's' - George Cole  'Blue Murder at St Trinian's' film - 1957

Flash Harry from Blue Murder at St Trinian’s Source: The Telegraph: George Cole: far more than just a spiv

RF:  Admin recently introduced me to “The Belles of St. Trinian’s“, and it was wonderful (and hilarious) to see a much younger George Cole as Flash Harry, who might’ve been one of Arthur’s cousins.  He had a great sense of comic timing.

Admin:  And I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂  The St. Trinian’s films are lovely.

So, in memory to George Cole, here is one of our favorite scenes, from “Poetic Justice, Innit?” in which Daley and Chisholm meet outside the courthouse.

[Daley is chatting with fellow juror Joe (John Bardon) when Chisholm interrupts]

Daley:  I mean who would have thought for a mo….

Chisholm: Well, well…if it isn’t the bold Arthur.

Daley:  Ha! Yeah.  Mr. Chisholm. [Turns to Joe] Business acquaintance Joe, I’ll see you inside.

Joe:  Alright, Arthur, yeah.  [Nods to Chisholm.]  Nice to meet you.

Admin:  Chisholm starts off rather cheerfully here.  That rattled Daley a little bit which seems to please Chisholm.  Daley, however, is pretty quick on his feet and describes Chisholm as a business acquaintance, thus saving face (though I reckon Joe knows exactly what Chisholm is) which is also a way of getting his own back at someone who would *never* consider himself a “business acquaintance” of Arthur’s.

poetic-justice 01

Pretty sure Joe knows he’s a cop.

RF:  That’s right, Chisholm is unusually cordial when he meets Arthur.  I suppose you could say it’s technically true that Chisholm is a “business acquaintance”, although as with most of the ways Arthur describes things, it makes it sound much better than it actually is.  Agreed that Joe probably already knows exactly who Chisholm is; Chisholm has a certain attitude and presence that tend to scream “COP!” wherever he goes, anyway.

Admin: The business of old spivs and perennial cops. 🙂

Daley: Well, they keeping you busy Mr. Chisholm?

Chisholm:  What are you doing here, Arthur? Up on one, are you?

Daley:  Ha-ha-ha!  Me? No, no, no. You know me, Mr. Chisholm, I keep well away from villainy.  No, no, I’ve just had a lunch break; I’m doing jury service.


“What are you doing here, Arthur? Up on one, are you?”

Admin: Chisholm’s smile is so snidely amused (and tremendously cute) when he asks “up on one.”   I love Daley’s chirpy response, complete with charming smile and finger wave as he says that he keeps well away from villainy.  This is one of the reasons that George Cole’s portrayal of Daley endeared him to the hearts of millions.  Mr. Cole himself couldn’t quite understand why so many people loved Daley (cite: The Express: I Can’t Understand Why Anyone Liked Arthur Daley), but he always played him with so much natural charm that you just couldn’t help but love him.

RF:  Thinking Arthur might be up on charges (and you’re right, he is snarkily amused) makes this one of the few cheery spots in Chisholm’s day.  The poor fellow is already feeling quite paranoid; he’s currently very anxious that D.S. Larry Soames (Michael Culver), his replacement while he’s on court duty, will (1) show him up by doing a better job, and (2) end up being better liked by everybody, especially Jones!  So of course Chisholm would hope that Arthur finally got nicked for something.  And of course Arthur does his usual bit of creative rewriting when he says he “keep[s] well away from villainy”.

Admin:  At least he was fortunate in that no one liked Soames whatsoever. 🙂

Chisholm: Jury service?!?  You!

Daley:  A few misdemeanors in the dim and distant past do not disqualify me.

Chisholm:  They must be more desperate for bodies than I thought to let you through.

Daley: Uncalled for, Mr. Chisholm, uncalled for. I’m a law abiding citizen serving my Queen and Country.

Nope, Arthur says he's there on jury service. Chisholm [incredulous]: "Jury service??"

Nope, Arthur says he’s there on jury service.Chisholm [incredulous]: “Jury service??” 

Admin:  And Chisholm’s cruel but fetching smile smoothly disappears.  Their rapid fire exchange is a lot of fun to watch.  I love Chisholm’s near snarl with the “desperate for bodies” line.  He actually sounds kind of menacing.  Daley remains glib with his desire to serve Queen and Country.  In reality, he is just eager to get a chance to get one of his own off the hook.

RF:  I love how Chisholm’s happy sneer so quickly changes into shocked incredulity and disbelief.  😀  Note that again, Arthur cheerfully rewrites things by mentioning “a few misdemeanours in the dim and distant past” (probably a few more than that, and more serious) and describing himself as “a law-abiding citizen”.  No wonder Chisholm is so annoyed; he knows exactly how far Arthur will bend the law when it suits him!

Chisholm: Bullshit, Arthur!  What court are you in, anyway?

Daley: Four.

Chisholm: Four?

Daley: Hmm, it’s very interesting, actually, but the prosecution don’t seem to have a very strong case. But, I can’t talk about it you understand. [Notices Chisholm’s crestfallen expression. ]  You alright, Mr. Chisholm.

[Mr. Chisholm spins around and quickly goes inside.]

Discovering Arthur's in *his* court... and his expression starts to fall...

Discovering Arthur’s in his court… and his expression starts to fall…

Admin:  Well, Chisholm doesn’t buy the thought of Daley wanting to do his civil duty.  Notice his rather suspicious expression when he asks what court Daley is in.  Oh, poor Mr. Chisholm, his bleak look of despair when he finds out that Daley will be a juror in the case he is giving evidence in is perfection.  Then Daley, who is already gloating over what he considers a weak prosecution, notices the dejected look.  Is he actually concerned? Probably not, but he does try to look Chisholm in the eyes and touches his shoulder.  I think Daley actually knows that Chisholm hates being touched (at least he seems to), because Chisholm moves off like he’s been burned and storms into the courthouse.  Score one for Daley!

...until he has a little meltdown. Aww, poor Cheerful Charlie. Arthur: "You all right, Mr. Chisholm?"

…until he has a little meltdown. Aww, poor Cheerful Charlie. :-(Arthur: “You all right, Mr. Chisholm?” 

RF:  I like how Chisholm, who knows Arthur well, is so blunt and won’t let him get away with trying to snow him.  He’s still very much the policeman when he asks Arthur what court he’s in, then the realization quickly dawns (“Four?”) that it’s even worse than he thought. Then the implosion begins.  This is probably the moment when Chisholm decides, as he later tells Jones, that “the system” is “out to get [him] personally”; it must be one of his worst nightmares to have Arthur Daley as a juror on one of his cases.  The transformation of Mr. Malahide’s expression from snarky amusement to suspicion and disbelief, then to deep, utter dejection, all in a matter of seconds without saying a

Pulling away about a nanosecond after Arthur touches him

Pulling away about a nanosecond after Arthur touches him

word, is wonderful to behold.  😀  As Admin has said before, you can almost see the little black raincloud forming over Chisholm’s head.  And Arthur trying to comfort him by touching his shoulder (you’re right, Arthur probably knows quite well that Chisholm hates to be touched) is just the horrible icing on a terrible Cake Wrecks cake.  😉  No wonder he stalks off into the courthouse!

Admin:  And I love the way the stalks off — it’s so fast I’m amazed Daley’s head didn’t spin.


 "Oh dear, oh dear."

“Oh dear, oh dear.”  Their scenes together were gold.

Admin:  Yes, it is a very short scene, but the rapid fire delivery from both Mr. Cole and Mr. Malahide is exquisite and packs in so much.  Their expressions smoothly change as they take turns vying for control.  It is a perfect example of how each man is a thorn in the other’s side.  Their scenes together stand out as gold.  From all that I’ve read, George Cole was a true gentleman who treated all with respect.  From his early days in British film working alongside Alastair Sim (another one of my favorites) to his fantastic run on British television, he always turned in memorable performance after memorable performance.  The reason people love Arthur Daley is because they love George Cole.


George Cole with Alastair Sim. Source: The Telegraph

RF:  It’s a very short scene, but it’s a sign of things to come in court, where poor Chisholm’s day manages to become even worse, thanks to Arthur.  😉  It’s also a great example of Chisholm and Arthur’s relationship as each other’s nemesis. Both Mr. Malahide and Mr. Cole do a great deal with the comic potential in the relatively compact writing, making a tiny masterpiece that tells us so much about these characters.  And I have to agree that a great deal of Arthur Daley’s appeal is because he was played by the very charming George Cole.


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