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Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart (2014)

TV-14 | | Documentary | 15 August 2014 (USA)
1:51 | Trailer
A small-town murder in New England became one of the highest-profile cases of the twentieth century. As the first fully televised court case, the Pamela Smart trial rattled the ... See full summary »


Jeremiah Zagar
3 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Nicole Kidman ... Suzanne Stone (archive footage)
Joaquin Phoenix ... Jimmy Emmett (archive footage)
Helen Hunt ... Pamela Smart (archive footage)
Matt Dillon ... Larry Maretto (archive footage)
Joyce Chopra ... Self
Stanley M. Brooks ... Self
Joyce Maynard Joyce Maynard ... Self
Pamela Smart ... Self
Bill Spencer ... Self
Dan Pelletier ... Self
Ted Haimes ... Self
Eric Trautmann Eric Trautmann ... Detective
Paul Maggiotto ... Self
Alec Beckett Alec Beckett ... Self
Sonia Fortin-Simon ... Self


A small-town murder in New England became one of the highest-profile cases of the twentieth century. As the first fully televised court case, the Pamela Smart trial rattled the consciousness of America. From gavel to gavel, a nation tuned in, and reality TV was born. Pulsating with sex, drugs, betrayal, and murder, the trial inspired 20 years of television shows, books, plays, and movies, including To Die For, starring Nicole Kidman and directed by Gus Van Sant. Written by Sundance Film Festival

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Did You Know?


This trial is said to have inspired the Nicole Kidman Movie "To Die For" See more »


Features To Die For (1995) See more »


Flying & Flocking
Written by Zoe Keating (as Zoë Keating)
Performed by Zoe Keating (as Zoë Keating)
Courtesy of 020202 Music (ASCAP)
See more »

User Reviews

This documentary leaves out one little thing
20 May 2017 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

HBO documentaries tend to be of pretty good quality. Here the documentary talks about how the media hype interfered with Pam Smart's chance at a fair trial. No doubt different decisions would have been made had this not been such a media circus. The tale of the killing of Greg Smart was irresistible to the media. You have the beautiful 23 year old widow as the accused murderess by proxy of her husband, the teens she had influence over in her job with the school carrying out the crime, and the sordid affair she had with the actual 15 year old shooter. No doubt the judge liked the idea of Clint Eastwood possibly playing him in the movie, and maybe that was on his mind when he refused to move the trial. You have people who claimed to see the actual teen killers getting worked up before going on the stand so they could give "good performances". Method actor teen murderers! Who would have thought it! The Smart family themselves complained about the accused boys, given sentences for second degree murder in return for their testimony against Pam, smiling after their testimony.

So given what is shown here maybe there is room to doubt. But HBO left out one little thing - the tapes that came from the wire Cecilia Pierce was wearing when she talked to Pam. Gone was that ladylike "woe is me" victim of circumstance demeanor. Instead Pam talks like she very well knows what went down when her husband was killed, and you can hear her talented manipulation of Cecilia when she tells her not to cooperate and tell the police everything. That was the damning evidence that HBO did not talk about and turned this from probably a hung jury result into a conviction. Those tapes were pretty clear too - not mangled with noise as many have said. I was one of the many listening/watching in real time when this trial aired on TV.

One thing I thought was interesting came from one of the jurors. She said there were three that were threatening to hang the jury in spite of everything. She also said that if she had known the only sentence the judge could give Pam was life with no parole she would have hung it anyways. Really? What exactly should you do with somebody who manipulated teens into killing her husband because she is angry about a one night stand he had a few months before? Give them a stern talking to and send them home to mother? I'd recommend the documentary for what is there, but I'm knocking off a few stars for what was likely omitted because it makes the case more open and shut.

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Release Date:

15 August 2014 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Live Free or Die See more »

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Hard Working Movies See more »
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1.85 : 1
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