In Cold Blood

I feel so sleepy. I guess it's a little late, but not nearly late enough for how tired I feel. Pardon my short post, I don't know what's with me today. I watched In Cold Blood, directed by Richard Brooks in 1967, based on the Truman Capote book of the same name. I actually never have read In Cold Blood, which seems stupid, given my hideous love of true crime. I did see the more modern version of the book, the aptly named Capote, which I liked quite a bit.

Anyway, my general like of these things made me feel like I would love this movie, and I really enjoyed it. It was a little slow and meandering, but I was also a little tired while watching it. I really liked the stark black and white, and the unknown actors. They were great in their roles, and Ebert wrote that Richard Blake even went on to actually murder someone. Perhaps this is why he was so convincing.
The film is about two men, Perry Smith  and "Dick" Hickock, who plan to rob the home of the Clutter family, where the think they will find a safe full of money. It is not surprising that they don't find any money. The film was apparently controversial for being violent and sympathizing with the killers, although it feels tame by today's standards. Although I never read the book, I felt like this was a pretty good adaptation of the plot, from what I knew of it.

Ebert writes that they shot the film on location - even inside the actual house where the actual murders took place. "There is creepy voodoo at work in scenes where we see actors recreating the Clutter's happy lives in the very house where the real family lived. Was this necessary? When I interviewed Blake in 1968, he said: "If we shot it in Nebraska, people would say, 'Isn't that just like Hollywood? It happens in Kansas and they shoot it in Nebraska'" (Great Movies II, 202). I read Ebert's review before the movie was over, and it really made the movie more creepy to know this. It felt surreal and spooky, and it worked, although it did take away some of my sympathy for the killers.

I thought the acting was great, and probably one of the reasons why the movie is so famous. For me, being unfamiliar with the actors meant that they sort of just dissolved for me and I could focus on the story, not who was playing the roles. I  also really loved the music, which would switch from creepy and ominous on shots of the killers, to happy and 50's sitcom-y during scenes with the family.

Overall, I think it is a great movie. I'd love to watch it again, and I think most people who are fans of true crime or crime dramas will really enjoy this. Let me know if you check it out!

Have any of you seen In Cold Blood? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Ebert's Great Movie essay on In Cold Blood
Buy or rent it at Amazon

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The Hustler