Truman Capote was sent to Kansas to write an article about the senseless murder of a family in their farm house in the middle of the night. What he brought back was the timeless novel In Cold Blood, telling that story and the stories of the two young men that were going to the gallows for that crime.
I've never read the source material, but I've seen both adaptations of Capote actually researching the novel (Capote with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Infamous with Toby Jones). Both docudramas are powerful pieces in their own right, but it's this film that is a masterpiece. It stars Robert Blake as Perry and Scott Wilson as Dick. These guys have both been to prison, each of them with dreams to follow. The thing about dreams is they need working capital, like a business. So in the dead of the night they follow a prison tale of a farmer and his safe, driving to the rural Kansas home. The next morning the family is dead. No safe. No money. No dreams.
We continue to follow the pair as the haphazardly make their way to Mexico for a little bit, but they come back because those dreams are so damn good. The inevitable happens. They make the mistake and Lady Justice takes over.
Before this film there were movies that followed the antagonists point of view, but In Cold Blood makes you sympathize with these two young murderers or in the very least Perry. Here's two men that slaughtered an entire family in their own home and we feel pity for them. They're lifetime losers and this was where the road they shared was heading for a long, long time. They were ticking time bombs. They were two chemicals that mixed together and tragedy followed.
The movie is filmed as bleakly as the characters it shows us. Black and white in 1967 was very rare, but for this film it works for an added effect that would later be used by Scorsese in raging Bull and Spielberg in Schindler's List.There is no color because this life is colorless. There are no bright spots. Darkness is at the end of that tunnel, not that great light that everyone is talking about. This is a very beautiful film from director Richard Brooks.
This is one of those wonderful gems from the late 1960's that teetered between the old Hollywood and the new. This was before the ratings system, so hearing the word "bullshit" was an awe inspiring experience (this is the first Hollywood production that used it). In Cold Blood is a groundbreaking film that broke new ground and even though it didn't quite open the door for those great films of the 1970's we can say that it turned the latched and cracked it open a bit. This is one of the great films of the '60's.