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149 of 158 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling Adaptation of Capote's Controversial Novel
When Truman Capote published his 1966 novel IN COLD BLOOD--a story based on the actual 1959 murder of wealthy Kansas farmer Herbert Clutter and his family--he single-handedly established a new type of printed literature. Factual accounts of real-world crime had made it into print before, of course, but in writing HIS book, Capote combined in-depth journalistic research...
Published on May 3, 2004 by Michael R Gates

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sad, true, and showing that PTSD was not considered a serious illness in those days.
Just goes to prove that somethings are not easily forgotten. It is said this true crime novel is the first book on the genre.

Yet a man like Perry, needed medical attention instead of being hung. He had a serious PTSD flareup. The other guy was truly the real criminal. He led Perry to make the decision to go there because of his greed. Perry was only looking to...
Published 16 months ago by Dan Hawks


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149 of 158 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling Adaptation of Capote's Controversial Novel, May 3, 2004
By 
Michael R Gates (Nampa, ID United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: In Cold Blood (DVD)
When Truman Capote published his 1966 novel IN COLD BLOOD--a story based on the actual 1959 murder of wealthy Kansas farmer Herbert Clutter and his family--he single-handedly established a new type of printed literature. Factual accounts of real-world crime had made it into print before, of course, but in writing HIS book, Capote combined in-depth journalistic research with the techniques of fiction writing, openly folding the facts of the case into invented dialogue and, for aesthetic purposes, sometimes combining the case's less important actors into single fictional characters. Capote himself referred to IN COLD BLOOD as a "non-fiction novel," and this approach to retelling real-life crimes in a pulp-like literary format would eventually evolve into the true-crime genre that is popular today.

Maverick filmmaker Richard Brooks saw the potential of Capote's work as a basis for an aesthetically literate and thematically powerful film and subsequently adapted it for the screen. Producing and directing the film himself, Brooks collaborated with talented cinematographer Conrad L. Hall to create a film that challenged the established Hollywood conception of what movie is supposed to be. Brooks rejected studio pressure to make the film in color, to cast well-known stars in the leading roles, and to soften the story's matter-of-fact depiction of the murders. Instead, he wanted to make a film that, like the novel upon which it was based, seemed raw, hard-boiled, and true to life.

In spite of the violent and senseless nature of the real-life murders, Capote's novel was intended to ultimately evoke feelings that would make the reader repudiate support of capital punishment. Having grown close to the murderers during his research, the author attempted to depict them as merely misguided human beings who were deserving of sympathy, understanding, and, above all, mercy. Capote wanted the reader to understand that a state-enforced, publicly sanctioned execution of the two killers would, in effect, simply increase the number of victims in the Clutter murder case by two, and he thought that his pseudo-journalistic approach would disguise his real message in a seemingly objective narrative account of the events. Brooks wanted to retain Capote's underlying intent, and he and Hall both realized that stark, somewhat grainy black-and-white photography would give the film a documentary feel and thereby reflect the novel's pseudo-realistic tone. Brooks also knew that casting big stars as the primaries in the film would skew the audience's perception of both the story and the characters, as would any softening of either the murders or the executions. Brooks was so obsessive about creating a sense of verisimilitude, in fact, that nearly all of the filming was done on location in the places where the events depicted occurred--including the same Kansas house in which the Clutter family was murdered. In addition, six of the actual jurors from the trial of the killers appeared in the film's trial scene, some of the extras in the film were real-life neighbors of the murdered family, and the hangman in the execution scene was THE hangman at the execution of the real-life killers!

So Brooks stood firm and got to make the film he wanted to make. And as the writer/director undoubtedly expected, IN COLD BLOOD generated controversy for its gratuitous violence (this in spite of the fact that the killings in the film occur outside the frame), its sympathy for the murderers, and its anti-capital-punishment stance. However, if the film--as well as its source material--has any flaw, it is the fact that it does not achieve its intended socio-political goal. The filmmakers and actors create such a sense of realism in the depiction of the cold-heartedness of the killings and the lack of contrition in the killers that, instead feeling a sense of injustice or cruelty when the murderers are executed, even the most liberal anti-death-penalty members of the audience generally go away feeling as though the killers got their just deserts. Nonetheless, IN COLD BLOOD is a well-made piece of noirish crime drama that has held up incredibly well over the years. As killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, actors Robert Blake--best known for his role in TV's BARETTA in the 1970s--and Scott Wilson deliver riveting, wholly believable performances. Conrad Hall's excellent cinematography does indeed give the film a gritty, documentary feel, and his excellent frame compositions simultaneously give an almost painterly quality to the imagery. Also notable is the jazzy score by Quincy Jones, which generates an early 1960s flavor without being too intrusive to the narrative. IN COLD BLOOD earned Oscar nominations for Brooks' direction, his screenplay, Hall's cinematography, and Jones' score.

For the contemporary audience, IN COLD BLOOD might seem more socially or politically germane than ever in light of Robert Blake's relatively recent arrest and pending trial for the alleged murder of his wife. Ever since Blake was taken into custody, one of Conrad Hall's most famous shots from IN COLD BLOOD keeps popping up on TV in newscasts and such. The shot centers on Blake's face the night his character, Perry Smith, is scheduled to be hanged, and as he gazes out a rain-spattered window, the light shining through gives the impression that a torrent of tears are streaming down his face.

The DVD from Columbia/Tristar offers relatively nothing by way of extras, but the digital transfer is very good. IN COLD BLOOD is presented in anamorphic widescreen in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and though some filmic artifacts like scratches and dust appear from time to time, there are no visible digital artifacts. The black-and-white photography comes across with what is obviously the intended amount of contrast and graininess. The soundtrack is available in English via Dolby Digital 3.1 SurroundSound and in French via Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono, with little noticeable hiss or distortion. Would've been nice if Columbia/Tristar had included a little bonus documentary about the real murder of the Clutter family, but this is nonetheless a very worthy disc to add to the collection of any film aficionado.
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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good adaptation of a great book, April 27, 2004
This review is from: In Cold Blood (DVD)
Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" was hailed as a "non-fiction novel"; Richard Brooks' film adaptation is a semi-documentary film. Brooks doesn't sensationalize, however; the blood and gore of four horrible murders is kept to a bare minimum. We hear the gunshots but we don't see the carnage, and we don't need to; the power of suggestion does it all. Brooks keeps the movie strictly on track, from the night of the murder to the discovery of the crime the next morning; the killers' flight across country and the investigation by the detectives of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation which solved the crime and brought the perpetrators to justice.
The actors are all competent in their roles and there are some very good performances indeed in the supporting parts. But the outstanding performance in this film is Robert Blake as Perry Smith, and to a lesser extent, Scott Wilson as Dick Hickock. Blake's haunted expression as he says, right before his hanging, "I'd like to apologize. But who to?" makes the viewer feel all the tragedy of a wasted life.
The one problem with this otherwise fine screen adaptation is that we see far too little of the Clutters. We don't get to know them as people, their lives, how they interact. They're just people who get murdered one night. In the book they became living characters, people we felt we knew. In the movie, they're almost reduced to bit players. The book is about the Clutters, who were killed by Hickock and Smith; the movie is about Hickock and Smith who murdered a family named Clutter.
The book raced along with the speed of a good novel; the film moves at a slower pace, that of an investigative report. If we see too little of the Clutters, we really get inside the minds of Smith and Hickock, and it isn't very nice in there. Shooting the movie in black and white lends to the newsreel quality of the film. It's a stark, bare-bones movie, the right kind of film to depict a senseless crime that ultimately destroyed six lives.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the Most Indelible Crime Film Ever Made, June 26, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: In Cold Blood [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Once seen, you will never forget Richard Brooks' haunting adaptation of In Cold Blood. A truer or more shocking story of American crime & punishment has never been told so well, and the film will leave you with more questions than answers. Yet, in terms of the filmmaking, everything works with the absolute precision of superlative craft. Robert Blake and Scott Wilson are unforgettable in the lead roles, each essaying a different kind of loser with brutish physicality and natural dialogue. The inventive jazz score by Quincy Jones is one of the strangest, and perhaps most appropriate, soundtracks ever created for an American studio film. And, most of all, the dazzling B&W cinematography of Conrad Hall is about the best I've ever seen. Images stick with you for days after the final credits roll-- a police cruiser screaming through the desolate Kansas prairie on a bright, cold morning; a cigarette lit in absolute darkness, suddenly revealing the twisted outline of a sweaty hand; a bloody shoeprint illuminated in the momentary glare of a flashing camera bulb; and, most famously, reflected rain 'tears' rolling down the killer's face as he awaits execution. The real miracle is that Brooks was able to preserve the narrative sweep of Truman Capote's 'nonfiction novel' without sacrificing detail. The documentary style and use of actual locations (it is rumored that Brooks even went so far as to use real vials of the victims' blood in a courtroom scene) make this a somewhat creepy viewing experience. But the offhand manner with which American filmmakers deal with crime nowadays neglects the heart of the issue-- murder and death are the ugliest experiences imaginable-- and Brooks glamorizes nothing here (other than the utter innocence of the slain family.) An socially iconoclastic coda to the film, depicting the wait on death row and eventual execution of the murderers, may disturb some viewers even more. To summarize, In Cold Blood is not much fun, but it is one of the most influential and disturbing film experiences of all time.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great and very compelling movie, May 23, 2006
By 
This review is from: In Cold Blood (DVD)
Well I went to bed at 10 pm all excited about getting to bed early. I made the mistake of putting on the TV to see what was on Discovery Health Channel. We I accidently put on a movie channel and I saw the very beginning of this movie and a young Robert Blake. Well at 12:15 I finally went to bed. I could not for a second pull myself away from this movie.

This proves again to me how good movies were in the year 1967. The performances of Blake and Wilson were riveting. When I had conflicting feelings over a character througout the movie then I know they are giving me a performance.

The black/white photography darkens the mood and the photography is magnificent. There are many outstanding cinematic works out there, but "In Cold Blood" ranks at near the top.

I would highly recommend this movie for a quiet evening if you would like to watch a cinematically compelling movie and stellar acting.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Shines As Bright Today As When It Was First Released, October 27, 2005
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This review is from: In Cold Blood (DVD)
When my DVD arrived yesterday I could not wait to take it home and watch it. I saw it when it originally came out in the 60s and I remember being shocked by the gritty black and white photography and the content. This was heady stuff for Atlanta. Robert Blake's performance haunts me to this day, so many years later. As I watched it last night I marveled at the photography, lighting, acting, writing. While only Mr. Forsyth and Mr. Blake are household names today, the other actors and actresses were perfectly cast. The performances are outstanding. I wish someone would bring this glorious masterpiece to the big screen again so the younger generation can enjoy it as we did so long ago. Perhaps they will order the DVD from Amazon.com and see for themselves what I am talking about. Truman Capote at his most brilliant. Robert Blake at his peak. Fascinating piece of film work.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong Stuff, April 3, 2006
This review is from: In Cold Blood (DVD)
Herbet Clutter, wife Bonnie, and their teenage children Kenyon and Nancy were much liked and respected in their tiny town of Holcomb, Kansas--but in the early hours of 14 November 1959 all four were brutally murdered. Rather unexpectedly, the crime made an impression on author Truman Capote, who rushed to the scene and followed the course of the case to its conclusion. The result was the book IN COLD BLOOD. Controversial, shocking, and exceptionally well-written, it became an international best seller and it remains a touchstone for crime writers to this day.

The 1967 film version of Capote's work is almost as remarkable as the book itself. Filmed in black and white in many of the real-life locations, it has a slightly documentary quality, icy and detached--and the overall cast is exceptional. This is the film on which Robert Blake's reputation as an actor rests, and deservedly so. As killer Perry Smith, Blake traps you between a profound distaste and the shock of unexpected sympathy; it is a masterful performance from start to finish. As Richard Hickock, Scott Wilson is no less fine.

Like Capote's book, the film opens with Smith and Hickock as they travel to Kansas and brings them to the Clutter home--only to suddenly flash past the crime to detail the investigation that finally resulted in their arrest and conviction. The centerpiece of the film has always been the moment at which we at last see what occurred in the Clutter home; actually filmed in the Clutter house itself, it is a spinechilling sequence, horrific and deeply disturbing.

Director and writer Richard Brooks guides the film with a very powerful sense of deliberation, erring only in the sense that he allows the film to become slightly preachy. Given the overall power of the film, however, this becomes a trivial annoyance. The DVD print is quite fine, but there are no extras of any kind. Strong stuff--and recommended.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great adaptation of a timeless story, October 21, 2005
By 
Mike Smith (Albuquerque, NM) - See all my reviews
This review is from: In Cold Blood (DVD)
I love the book this movie's based on, and am relieved to report that the movie is great as well--though in different ways.

"In Cold Blood" tells the true story of two young guys who senselessly murder an entire family in rural Kansas, mistakenly believing the family to have a hidden safe. While the book focuses almost equally on the people who were murdered, the killers, and the lawmen pursuing the killers, the movie focuses mainly on just the killers, and makes them that much more human in the process.

The film is shot in bright grim black-and-white, and its style makes the movie feel somewhat like old news footage, or like a cinema verite documentary. The movie's sudden bop-style music (by Quincy Jones) is great and helps boost the weird and creepy vibes surrounding the killers and their actions, and the director's use of MOS (silence when there could be sound) makes the scenes of the family's deaths all the more chilling, and all the more tragic.

The first half of the movie unfurls itself slowly, lazily, but serves well to introduce and even attach the viewer to the main characters, despite the characters' murderous ways...especially to Perry, the more childlike and (arguably) emotionally imbalanced of the two. Well-incorporated flashbacks serve to show the killers' sad childhoods, and makes their crime that much sadder, and that much harder to judge fairly.

The movie also ends in a very different spot than the book does, and much more abruptly, but it ends well, and the movie stands strongly as a work of art all its own.

I highly recommend it, and I'm looking forward to tracking down a copy of the 1990s-made-for-TV remake, and to seeing "Capote," the new film about Truman Capote writing the original book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lock Your Doors At Night!, June 15, 2001
By 
This review is from: In Cold Blood [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This film is the perfect example of what happens when you don't lock your doors at night! Your home gets invaded and, you may even get killed!
But that's not the point of this film (not really, anyway). This is a stark, cold, real film that is based on a true story that happened in 1959 in Kansas. Based on Truman Capote's 1965 novel, it became an excellent film in 1967 - starring Robert Blake and Scott Wilson, as low-life killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickok.
The film is about two men who hatch a plan in finding a safe which held a supposed fortune inside. In a rural town of Holcomb, Kansas, the Clutter family, the victims of this horrible tale, are murdered in cold blood all for a measly $40 - $10 for each life! There was Herbert Clutter (John McLiam), the father; Bonnie Clutter (Ruth Storey), the mentally unbalanced mother; Nancy Clutter (Brenda Currin), their 16-year-old daughter; and Kenyon Clutter (Paul Hough), their young son. All were killed at night for what? Nothing! A well-to-do family killed in a senseless act of violence.
But the film has a shocking twist! In some moments, we actually (or at least I did) come to like these characters! No, not for what they did, but for their dreams - like Perry's "Captain Cortes" bit or his dream about playing in Las Vegas. I even sympathized for him when he talked about his father pointing the shotgun at him and saying, "look at me, boy, 'cause this is the last face you'll ever get to see!" and they pulls the trigger without any bullets inside. (It was revealed that his father was the reason for Perry's explosive tempers, which also caused Perry to single-handedly kill the Clutters.) Even Dick can't believe it! And you're sure he had something to do with the murders, but it was all Perry's doing! Dick is slime, but you have to feel sorry in a way. They just wanted the money.
Then, in a surprise move by both author Capote and Richard Brooks, who directed and wrote the screenplay, showed a new side of these "villains." By showing their cross-country adventure in Mexico and back to the States, their adventure with a kid, a sick old man, and bottles (you'll just have to watch this film to see what I mean)!
But it is also not for the squeamish! I admit to crying during the murder scenes. Truly is heartbreaking. It balances between a drama, a film noir, and even a buddy/road film. Eventually, Dick and Perry are caught and sentenced to be hanged!
There are many familiar and very good character actors here: John Forsythe plays Alvin Dewey, the man in charge of finding the killers; Jeff Corey is Dick's father, Mr. Hickok; Will Geer is the prosecuting attorney who convicts them; and Paul Stewart (Raymond from CITIZEN KANE) as Jenson the reporter.
IN COLD BLOOD was nominated for 5 Academy Awards including: Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay - Richard Brooks; Best Cinematography - Conrad Hall; Best Film Editing; and Best Score - Quincy Jones.
A sad, but thoughtful film that is as compelling and surreal as the book itself!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic of the Crime Genre, June 5, 2002
By 
Stewart Axelrad "sunbard" (San Antonio, Texas United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: In Cold Blood [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Based on Truman Capote's book, "In Cold Blood" is a rare example of a film which does justice to its original source. Based on an actual mass murder which occured in Kansas in late 50's, this stark black-and-white film directed by Richard Brooks (who also wrote the screenplay) is not for the squeamish. The two murderers, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, are excellently portrayed by Scott Wilson and Robert Blake. Two down-and-out losers, they plan what they believe will be a "major score" in the robbery of a supposedly wealthy Kansas farmer. But their partnership, and the psychopathic personality of Perry Smith, creates a third entity which results in the slaughter of the entire Klutter family. The last 30 minutes of this film are truly horrific, in flashback mode, and the brilliance of Richard Brooks' direction is that the murders are merely inferred by quick camera cuts that never show the killings on screen. The killers' executions at the end of the film are almost anti-climactic. See the film, then go read Capote's book; both are excellent accounts of this sad and savage story. This is a film that cries out to be released on DVD, with possible extra features being a documentary or two on the real-life killers and their actual capture. A much under-appreciated classic of film noir.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LEAVE NO WITNESSES, March 24, 2006
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This review is from: In Cold Blood (DVD)
Inspired by my recent viewing of the excellent film CAPOTE, I returned to this 1967 version of the book CAPOTE focused on. Director Richard Brooks created a harsh, no frills almost documentary approach to the heinous crime committed by Perry Smith and Richard Hickocks; even in watching both movies I've never truly understood why the Clutter family was so brutally murdered, except for the killers vow to leave no witnesses. Robert Blake and Scott Wilson give unflinchinly chilling portrayals as the two killers, Blake with his barely perceptible psychosis and Wilson with his casual casting off of his crime. The movie is uncomfortable at times due to the nature of this violent crime but one can't deny its place among the classic true crime movies of our time.
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In Cold Blood
In Cold Blood by Richard Brooks (DVD - 2003)
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