At the end of the 1950s, in a more innocent America, the brutal, meaningless slaying of a Midwestern family horrified the nation. This film is based on Truman Capote's hauntingly detailed, ... See full summary »
In 1959, Truman Capote learns of the murder of a Kansas family and decides to write a book about the case. While researching for his novel In Cold Blood, Capote forms a relationship with one of the killers, Perry Smith, who is on death row.
Philip Seymour Hoffman,
Clifton Collins Jr.,
Brick, an alcoholic ex-football player, drinks his days away and resists the affections of his wife, Maggie. His reunion with his father, Big Daddy, who is dying of cancer, jogs a host of memories and revelations for both father and son.
In meeting in Kansas, ex-cons Perry Smith and Dick Hickock are breaking several conditions of their respective paroles. The meeting, initiated by Dick, is to plan and eventually carry out a robbery based on information he had received from a fellow inmate about $10,000 cash being locked in a hidden safe in the home of the farming Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas. After the robbery, they plan on going to Mexico permanently to elude capture by the police. Each brings a necessary personality to the partnership to carry out the plan, Dick who is the brash manipulator, Perry the outwardly more sensitive but unrealistic dreamer with a violent streak under the surface. Perry literally carries all his dreams in a large box he takes with him wherever he goes. The robbery does not go according to plan in any respect, the pair who ultimately hogtie and execute all four members of the Clutter family, only coming away from the home with $43 in cash. As Perry and Dick go on the run, a murder ... Written by
Imagine turning out the lights in your remote farmhouse on a cold night, and then going to bed. There's no need to lock the doors. The only sound is the wind whistling through the trees. Sometime after midnight a car with lights off inches up the driveway. Moments later an intruder beams a flashlight into your darkened living room.
What makes this image so scary is the setting: a remote farmhouse ... at night. Based on Truman Capote's best-selling book, and with B&W lighting comparable to the best 1940's noir films, "In Cold Blood" presents a terrifying story, especially in that first Act, as the plot takes place largely at night and on rain drenched country roads. It's the stuff of nightmares. But this is no dream. The events really happened, in 1959.
Two con men with heads full of delusions kill an entire Kansas family, looking for a stash of cash that doesn't exist. Director Richard Brooks used the actual locations where the real-life events occurred, even the farmhouse ... and its interior! It makes for a memorable, and haunting, film.
Both of the lead actors closely resemble the two real-life killers. Robert Blake is more than convincing as Perry Smith, short and stocky with a bum leg, who dreams of finding Cortez' buried treasure. Scott Wilson is almost as good as Dick Hickock, the smooth-talking con artist with an all-American smile.
After their killing spree, the duo head to Mexico. Things go awry there, so they come back to the U.S., stealing cars, hitchhiking, and generally being miserable as they roam from place to place. But it's a fool's life, and the two outlaws soon regret their actions. The film's final twenty minutes are mesmerizing, as the rain falls, the rope tightens, and all we hear is the pounding of a beating heart.
Even with its somewhat mundane middle Act, "In Cold Blood" stages in riveting detail a real-life story that still hypnotizes, nearly half a century later. It's that setting that does it. Do you suppose people in rural Kansas still leave their doors unlocked ... at night?
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