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In Cold Blood (1967)

 

In Cold Blood (1967)

With a title that makes it clear you’re about to watch a thriller, this movie is based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Truman Capote.The movie tells the story of four murders which took place in Kansas during 1959.Richard Hickock and Perry Smith attempt a robbery but can’t find anything of value.Not wanting to leave any witnesses at the scene of the robbery, they commit four murders and go on the run from the police.

Although it was released way back in 1967, IN COLD BLOOD still remains the benchmark by which all true-crime films are matched. Veteran writer/director Richard Brooks (ELMER GANTRY) adapted Truman Capote's non-fiction book into a chilling docudrama that retains a disturbing power even today, thirty-five years later.

Robert Blake and Scott Wilson portray Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, two ex-cons who, on a tip from Hicock's old cellmate Floyd Wells, broke into the Holcomb, Kansas home of Herbert Clutter, looking for a wall safe supposedly containing $10,000. But no safe was ever found, and the two men instead wound up killing Mr. Clutter, his wife, and their two children, getting away with only a radio, a pair of binoculars, and a lousy forty dollars. Two months on the run, including an aimless "vacation" in northern Mexico, ended in Las Vegas when cops caught them in a stolen car. But it eventually comes out, after merciless grilling by Kansas law enforcement officials, that these two men committed that heinous crime in Holcomb. Tried and convicted on four counts of murder, they stew in jail over a five-year period of appeals and denials until both are hanged to death on April 14, 1965.

Blake and Smith are absolutely chilling as the two dispassionate killers who show no remorse for what they've done but are concerned about getting caught. John Forsythe also does a good turn as Alvin Dewey, the chief detective investigating the crime, as does Gerald S. O'Laughlin as his assistant. In a tactic that is both faithful to Capote's book and a good artistic gambit all around, Brooks does not show the murders at the beginning; instead, he shows the two killers pulling up to the Clutter house as the last light goes out, then cuts to the next morning and the horrifying discovery of the bodies. Only during the ride back to Kansas, when Blake is questioned by Forsythe and narrates the story, do we see the true horror of what happened that night. We don't see that much blood being spilled in these scenes, but we don't need to. The shotgun blasts and the horrified look on the Clutters' faces as they know they are about to die are more than disturbing enough, so there is no need to resort to explicitly bloody slasher-film violence.


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