If you want a far superior version of this case, check out "A Killing in Beverley Hills," released in the same year.
This one is, with some exceptions, a weak, cobbled-together account of two rich kids in Beverley Hills who, driven too hard by their authoritarian father, slaughtered both Mom and Dad with shotguns in the living room.
It turns a case full of intrigue and interest into a story of a dysfunctional family with adjustment problems. It's reduced to the level of some parental complaint about a kid who insists on playing basketball all the time and refuses to clean out his closet. What to do? The most interesting details are omitted. (Did either of these two dumb punks imagine that their shrink was not going to become famous by spilling the beans on them?) The film has more than one "lying flashback" in it. (We see Dad forcing the one of the kids into being sexually abused, when in fact there is absolutely no evidence for it.) The nature of American character is left uncommented on or even mentioned. (One of the boys was cute and a lot of girls lined up and cheered for him outside the court, holding placards in his support.) The narrative is confusing. (Is the older son in Princeton or out of it?) Even the ending is meaningless. (Yes, the first trial ended inconclusively, but the two killers were convicted the second time around.) The performances of the two narcissists is terrible, but James Farentino as the Demanding Dad is convincing enough. He's supposed to be cold and unresponsive to his son's needs. And his grooming, make up, and natural features lend him the presence of Dracula. His wife, Jill Clayburgh, is a self-pitying, bitter alcoholic -- according to this movie.
"A Killing in Beverley Hills" is no masterpiece, but it's a well-written and professionally directed story of a true crime. It bears watching. This version doesn't.
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