Review: ‘In Cold Blood’

In the skillful hands of adapter-director-producer Richard Brooks, Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, the non-fiction novel-like account about two Kansas killers, becomes on screen a probing, sensitive, tasteful, balanced and suspenseful documentary-drama.

In the skillful hands of adapter-director-producer Richard Brooks, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, the non-fiction novel-like account about two Kansas killers, becomes on screen a probing, sensitive, tasteful, balanced and suspenseful documentary-drama.

Film has the look and sound of reality, in part from use of action locales in six states and non-pros as atmosphere players, the rest from Brooks’ own filmmaking professionalism. Planned as a $3 million, 124-day pic, it came in for $2.2 million in 80 days.

Heading the competent cast are Robert Blake and Scott Wilson, bearing a striking resemblance to the now-dead Kansas drifters who, in the course of a burglary on 15 November, 1959, murdered four of a family. Almost six years later, after an exhausted appeal route, they were hanged. John Forsythe plays the chief investigator who broke the case.

Brooks’ screenplay and direction are remarkable in that pic avoids so many pitfalls: it is not a crime meller, told either from the police or criminal viewpoint; it is not social tract against capital punishment; it is not cheap exploitation material; and it is not amateurish in technical execution, despite its realistic flavor.

1967: Nominations: Best Director, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Original Music Score

In Cold Blood

Production

Columbia. Director Richard Brooks; Producer Richard Brooks; Screenplay Richard Brooks; Camera Conrad Hall; Editor Peter Zinner; Music Quincy Jones; Art Director Robert Boyle

Crew

(B&W) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1967. Running time: 133 MIN.

With

Robert Blake Scott Wilson John Forsythe Paul Stewart Gerald S. O'Loughlin Jeff Corey
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