Wednesday, February 22, 2006

IN COLD BLOOD - Perry's story, well-told

On the back of the UK release of CAPOTE, the National Film Theatre is screening IN COLD BLOOD - the 1960s movie based on the Truman Capote "non-fiction novel." Unlike CAPOTE, IN COLD BLOOD is simply a straightforward re-telling of the Clutter killings. This movie achieves what Perry wanted, and what Capote himself wanted despite the exploitation shown in Capote: to show that Perry Smith was not a monster, but an unstable kid in need of mental help. IN COLD BLOOD is a great movie, and in sharp contrast to CAPOTE, it grabs you from the opening shots and keeps your attention fixed to the screen. The energy of the project is created by the furious inter-cutting of the stories of the Clutter family and their killers; the innovative and imaginative camera-work; as well as the fantastic score from jazz legend Quincy Jones. IN COLD BLOOD was photographed by legendary cinematographer Connie Hall. Hall shot BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID, COOL HAND LUKE, AMERICAN BEAUTY, ROAD TO PERDITION. Some shots are just so beautifully framed you want the movie to stop so you can take it all in. In particular, when Perry Smith pulls into the bus station in Hokum, we have the bus station in the foreground on the left hand side of the screen - dark, menacing, just like our first impression of Perry. On the right hand side of the screen is the "real world" - skycrapers glimmering in the sunshine. The cast is fantastic, especially Robert Blake playing Perry Smith. (Although, in the saddest irony since the cop from the Village People became one of America's Most Wanted, Robert Blake is currently being tried for murder.)

The British Film Institute is showing IN COLD BLOOD as a tie-in with the UK release of CAPOTE.

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