Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
USA, 1967. Columbia Pictures Corporation, Pax Enterprises. Screenplay by Richard Brooks, based on the novel by Truman Capote. Cinematography by Conrad L. Hall. Produced by Richard Brooks. Music by Quincy Jones. Production Design by Robert F. Boyle. Costume Design by Jack Martell. Film Editing by Peter Zinner.
Exceptional true-life drama that brings Truman Capote’s phenomenally successful novel to brilliant life. Robert Blake and Scott Wilson are terrific as two small-time hoods who get out of prison and head to Kansas. They’ve heard that a rich farmer has a safe loaded with cash in his home, so they break in in the middle of the night and, when they don’t find the money, kill all four members of the family. For all this they make off with $43 and a radio, after which point they high-tail it on the road while homicide detective John Forsythe is left behind to unravel the mystery and catch them. Richard Brooks keeps the film at the same level of documentary realism that Capote’s novel had, while also including its surprising levels of sympathy and humour for the culprits without ever appearing to be forgiving of their actions. The scenes that depict the murders still have an emotional terror to them that stands up today, while the rest of it features levels of character depth that never for a minute slow down the exceptional pace and rhythm of this incredibly exciting film.
The Criterion Collection: #781
Academy Award Nominations: Best Director (Richard Brooks); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Cinematography; Best Original Music Score
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Picture-Drama