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In Cold Blood, a forgotten classic of 60's cinema
on 19 December 2007
"In Cold Blood" ranks top of my honor list of crime/dramas. Adapted from international bestseller non-fiction novel by Truman Capote; it was a real sensation of late 1950s, a true crime classic based on 1959 Halcomb, Kansas murders.
Thanks to writer/producer/director Richard Brook's journalistic background, it has a good taste of docu-drama in and of itself. His directorial touch is amazing. Everything unfolds as it should, and the story clicks along without a wasted second. The film was shot mostly in actual locations (e.g. Clutter house where the murders were committed) and used the people (7 original members of 12 jurors & the real hangman who made their execution) involved to make the film as authentic as possible. Furthermore, the outstanding cast and exquisite, richly-detailed black & white cinematography of Conrad Hall contribute greatly to the gritty, documentary realism of the story.
Well, another thing that impressed me so much is the psychological portraits of killers. Both characters are well-drawn and well-acted. Perry Smith, brutal albeit naïve and weak-willed of the duo is victim of circumstances. His childhood traumas (broken home, tough father and promiscuous mother) and complexes about his physical handicap reflect his interior confusion perfectly. Flashbacks and his fantasies are put so proper places that not only enriches the viewing experience, but also deepens the film's philosophy. On the other hand, Dick Hickock portrays Smith's sly accomplice with terrifingly manipulative mind. Theirs are one of the most alive albeit morbid relationships in cinema history in that both feed on other's psychopathology and the film captures perfectly all the pathos of their situation. We come to realize that these two as both equal but opposite kinds of a killer. As the voice-over narrator says "neither of them would have done it alone. But together, they made a third personality. That's the one who did it".
To sum up, "In Cold Blood" deserves all praises as a superbly photographed film in a documentary style. Highly recommended...