[Movie] In Cold Blood (1967)

  • Directed by: Richard Brooks
  • Cast: Robert Blake, Scott Wilson. John Forsythe
  • Based on: In Cold Blood (novel, 1966)  by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood is a neo-noir crime movie based on Truman Capote’s book of the same name. The book and movie depicts the real murder case – Clutter family murders -. Also, the film was shot at the location where the four members of the Clutter family were murdered.

In the early morning hours of November 15, 1959, four members of the Clutter family – Herb Clutter, his wife Bonnie, and their teenage children Nancy and Kenyon – were murdered in their rural home, just outside the small farming community of Holcomb, Kansas. Two ex-convicts, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, were found guilty of the murders and sentenced to death. 


The film can be shot in two ways or from two different points of view. The first view can focus on the criminals: their background, motives, acts on the day of the murder, and after. Another one can be the reaction of others: how neighbors, media, politicians, and the general public accept and react to the accident. The film is more focused on the psychology of two murderers. Personally, I am more interested in the people around the case. If you are like me, please read the book “In Cold Blood” for a more balanced description of the case.

Someday, somebody will explain to me the motive of a newspaper. First, you scream, “Find the bastards.” Till we find them, you want to get us fired. When we find them, you accuse us of brutality. Before we go into court, you give them a trial by newspaper. When we finally get a conviction, you want to save them by proving they were crazy in the first place.

from the movie

The best part of the movie is the casting. Actors, who have close resemblance with real characters in the case, did an excellent performance depicting the murder of no-sense. Also, by putting realistic actors in actual settings, Richard Brooks, a director, achieves a new level of realism. And the film noir style of directing, shot in black and white, maintains the disturbing atmosphere throughout the film, especially the scene of the killers’ hanging.

What’s missing in the film, as I already mentioned, is the arbitrariness and nonsensical act of murder and its effect on others. The key is neither how cold-blooded the killers are nor how cruel the violence is. People might not react much to many cases of gang violence. But just one case of murder, the case of the seemingly most nice people, is a different matter. It is the fear of terrorism, which can change our views of the world and actions to it.  

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