Killer – A Journal of Murder

Based on a true story, this is a disturbing prison drama about the unlikely relationship between a self-proclaimed reprobate, who may have been America's first serial killer, and a conscientious guard seeking the man's redemption. Oliver Stone's production features top-notch performances by James Woods, as the remorseless criminal, and Robert Sean Leonard, as the liberal guard.

With:
James Woods Robert Sean Leonard Ellen Greene Cara Buono Robert John Burke Steve Forrest

Based on a true story, this is a disturbing prison drama about the unlikely relationship between a self-proclaimed reprobate, who may have been America’s first serial killer, and a conscientious guard seeking the man’s redemption. Oliver Stone’s production features top-notch performances by James Woods, as the remorseless criminal, and Robert Sean Leonard, as the liberal guard.

Set in 1929 in Leavenworth Prison, story introduces Henry Lesser (Leonard) at the beginning of his career as a guard with lofty dreams and hopes for prison reform. In jail, he meets Carl Panzram (Woods), a vengeful murderer with animalistic instincts who’s perceived as unreachable and irredeemable.

Henry finds his value system beginning to collapse, and he starts questioning the validity of the penitentiary system. It soon becomes clear that Henry, an educated, liberal Jew, is fascinated with Carl because he’s never met anyone like him before.

The prosaic, earnest nature of some sequences has a TV-movie feel. Still, the acting of the two leads is beyond reproach.

Pic has been given a beautiful production, with a rich, dark, period look enhanced by Ken Kelsch’s sharp lensing that mixes black-and-white and color imagery. Production designer Sherman Williams built a gallows modeled on the actual 1930 architect’s plans.

Killer - A Journal of Murder

Production: Ixtlan/Spelling. Director Tim Metcalfe; Producer Janet Yang, Mark Levinson; Screenplay Tim Metcalfe; Camera Ken Kelsch; Editor Richard Gentner; Music Graeme Revell; Art Director Sherman Williams

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1996. Running time: 90 MIN.

With: James Woods Robert Sean Leonard Ellen Greene Cara Buono Robert John Burke Steve Forrest

More Film

  • This Is Home

    Sundance Film Review: 'This Is Home'

    Based on a true story, this is a disturbing prison drama about the unlikely relationship between a self-proclaimed reprobate, who may have been America’s first serial killer, and a conscientious guard seeking the man’s redemption. Oliver Stone’s production features top-notch performances by James Woods, as the remorseless criminal, and Robert Sean Leonard, as the liberal […]

  • MyFrenchFilmFestival: Tristan Lhomme on ‘Lazare,’

    MyFrenchFilmFestival: Tristan Lhomme on ‘Lazare,’ France’s Antonin Peretjatko

    Based on a true story, this is a disturbing prison drama about the unlikely relationship between a self-proclaimed reprobate, who may have been America’s first serial killer, and a conscientious guard seeking the man’s redemption. Oliver Stone’s production features top-notch performances by James Woods, as the remorseless criminal, and Robert Sean Leonard, as the liberal […]

  • Winshluss Vincent Paronnaud

    MyFrenchFilmFestival: Denis Walgenwitz, Vincent Paronnaud on ‘The Death, Dad & Son’

    Based on a true story, this is a disturbing prison drama about the unlikely relationship between a self-proclaimed reprobate, who may have been America’s first serial killer, and a conscientious guard seeking the man’s redemption. Oliver Stone’s production features top-notch performances by James Woods, as the remorseless criminal, and Robert Sean Leonard, as the liberal […]

  • 'Clara's Ghost' Review

    Sundance Film Review: 'Clara's Ghost'

    Based on a true story, this is a disturbing prison drama about the unlikely relationship between a self-proclaimed reprobate, who may have been America’s first serial killer, and a conscientious guard seeking the man’s redemption. Oliver Stone’s production features top-notch performances by James Woods, as the remorseless criminal, and Robert Sean Leonard, as the liberal […]

  • 'Tyrel' Review

    Sundance Film Review: 'Tyrel'

    Based on a true story, this is a disturbing prison drama about the unlikely relationship between a self-proclaimed reprobate, who may have been America’s first serial killer, and a conscientious guard seeking the man’s redemption. Oliver Stone’s production features top-notch performances by James Woods, as the remorseless criminal, and Robert Sean Leonard, as the liberal […]

  • Colette

    Sundance Film Review: 'Colette'

    Based on a true story, this is a disturbing prison drama about the unlikely relationship between a self-proclaimed reprobate, who may have been America’s first serial killer, and a conscientious guard seeking the man’s redemption. Oliver Stone’s production features top-notch performances by James Woods, as the remorseless criminal, and Robert Sean Leonard, as the liberal […]

  • MyFrenchFilmFestival: Emmanuel Marre Talks About ‘The

    MyFrenchFilmFestival: ‘The Summer Movie’s’ Emmanuel Marre on Roadtrips, Depression, Male Sensibility

    Based on a true story, this is a disturbing prison drama about the unlikely relationship between a self-proclaimed reprobate, who may have been America’s first serial killer, and a conscientious guard seeking the man’s redemption. Oliver Stone’s production features top-notch performances by James Woods, as the remorseless criminal, and Robert Sean Leonard, as the liberal […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content