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3.4 out of 5 stars
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3.4 out of 5 stars
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I recently had the opportunity to view this film on television. A remake of the 1967 film of the same name, which was a fairly faithful adaptation of Truman Capote's sensational non-fiction book, this version does not disappoint the viewer. Although it does not have the gritty, quasi-documentary feel of the black and white 1967 film, which starred Robert Blake and Scott Wilson in the two lead roles, it is compelling in its own right and a fairly faithful adaptation.
The film follows the path of two losers, Dick Hickock (Anthony Edwards) and Perry Smith (Eric Roberts), as they careen towards catastrophe for themselves and for the hapless Klutter family of Holcomb, Kansas, upon whom they have set their sights. The pathology inherent in these two protagonists is chilling. It is also scary to think that a simple twist of fate would join them all in the annals of true crime.
While Hickock was incarcerated, a fellow inmate, Floyd Wells, who at one time years ago had worked for Herbert Klutter, the patriarch of the Klutter family, told Hickock that Klutter was a wealthy farmer who kept a large store of cash in a safe in the house. Given many details of the family and their house, Hickock fantasizes of making a big score, courtesy of the Klutter family.
When Hickock is released, he hooks up with his friend, Perry Smith. Smith, initially the more sympathetic of the two protagonists, is an individual with obvious psychological problems, deeply rooted in his troubled childhood, while Hickock, who seemed to have had a relatively normal childhood, is a totally amoral con man with little empathy for others. Together, these two spell trouble.
As they begin their preparations for their supposed big heist, the viewer gets a dose of the pathological psyche of these two pathetic individuals. Clearly, Hickock is the leader, with the troubled Smith seemingly reluctant to go along with Hickock's plans. It is chilling to watch them as their preparations and actions take them ever closer to their moment of reckoning with the Klutter family.
The film also tells a parallel story, that of the all-American Klutter family. The viewer sees how they lived and what their modest lives were like just shortly before theirs were to violently intersect those of Smith and Hickock on November 14, 1959. It is this poignant glimpse into their lives just before their senseless slaughter by these two strangers that makes the film so heartbreaking. Were it not for a simple twist of fate, this family might have gone on to live their lives in relative obscurity.
When Smith and Hickock finally reach the home of the Klutters that fateful night, they simply walk in through their unlocked door. Sleeping in the family home were the Clutters and their two teenage children. It would prove to be an unforgettable night for all concerned. The rest of the film focuses on the subsequent actions of Hickock and Perry, as well as on the investigation of the murders, which investigation ultimately saw this motley pair brought to justice.
Anthony Edwards gives an impressive performance as the creepy, amoral, and immature Hickock. He plays him as a big talker pumped with self-importance, a con man who cons Perry into thinking that this score will set them up for life. Eric Roberts plays Perry Smith as a sympathetic and somewhat sensitive character, who, but for the cruel twists of fate, might have had another kind of life. His portrayal makes the revelations at the end all that more surprising.
This is a very good film that does not try to copy the original 1967 film but, instead, forges its own path. The direction is excellent, as are the performances of the entire cast. Those who enjoy the true crime genre will find this film to be well worth watching.
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on 13 June 2016
Although I knew that this DVD was sub-standard, thanks to other reviews here, I bought it anyway out of interest, having read the book and bought the original film version. As far as I can tell (since it stops suddenly half way through) it was shaping up to be a fair version of the story. Since it was made as a mini-series they had more time to show some of the family background which is in the book.
The film was good BUT there is no excuse for Boulevard Entertainment to release such a shabby and comically sub-standard product as a film that just stops half-way through. If they couldn't be bothered to make a proper job of releasing the story in full, maybe it would have been better if they hadn't released it at all.
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on 31 January 2016
This is the far better film about the true murders. I think it was originally a TV film. The acting is far better than in the black and white more modern version. This sticks more to the truth and is based on Truman Capotes book. If you want to see this I would advise watching the film Infamous first as the two do tie together even though they weren't meant to.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 August 2012
After reading the brilliant book by Truman Capote and watching the excellent black and white film In Cold Blood [DVD] starring Scott Wilson and Robert Blake who gave such excellent performances as the leads, I decided to give his made for television remake from 1996 a try. That was a mistake.

The acting is very wooden, particularly Eric Roberts as Perry Smith, the locations look nothing like Kansas, unlike the original film which used all of the real locations. A bonus (and it is the only one) is that, being a two part TV film, 180 minutes in total, there is time to give more background on the murdered Clutter family (hence the two stars). Apart from that, this is a very bad remake, lacking both the documentary feel and the gripping suspense of the first film.

To make matters worse, and I don't know if it's only my copy, but this DVD only includes the first episode and not the second. Because of this I had to go on YouTube to see the second half, I paid for a two part drama running 180 minutes, but instead was able to watch just the one spanning all of 90.

I think that this TV movie should be avoided in my honest, only for the curious. If you do happen to watch it, you will only then understand why the original 1967 masterpiece was so good.
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on 10 November 2013
This is a 2 part T.V. mini-series & the box states that it runs for 180 minutes, HOWEVER, the D.V.D. only contains the first episode (running time 90 minutes) & so the purchase is completely useless. DO NOT BUY.
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on 15 June 2014
Anthony Edwards plays one of the killers. He is a great actor. If you've seen him in ER, this will be quite a shock, to see him playing this kind of role, but he does it so well. It's scary how convincing he is as this cold, dangerous man.
I have a copy of Truman Capote's written account of the story of the Clutter family's shocking murder, but have not read it for many years. So it's hard to say how this film compares to it. But this is a good film in it's own right. It tells the story of the Clutter family murder, which was beyond shocking at the time it occurred. I had the chance to watch this on TV many years ago, but rather annoyingly there was a power cut halfway through and I never got to see the finale. That is the main reason I purchased this DVD and it was a good decision. Knowing this story is true makes it hard to watch, so the DVD won't get many repeat views in my house. I recommend it though, if only for the good acting. Not just Edwards, they are all good.
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on 17 January 2014
This is a faulty product. There was a fault in the DVD as only about half the film had been recorded.
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on 26 May 2010
This is a very poor attempt to translate Truman Capote's excellent docu-novel of the same name into a made-for-TV drama. While true to the story, the dialogue is stilted and the acting, wooden. I suggest you get the DVD of Capote (starring Philip Seymour Hoffman); it is far more compelling.
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on 9 August 2013
There has been a film version of this true story, but this is the TV version which I prefer, The acting throughout is superb and you will find it hard to believe that this all really happened.
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on 18 March 2015
this movie is very slow from the beging to the end violent some scenes of blood
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