In Cold Blood (1967) Richard Brooks & Truman Capote’s Devastating Biographic Masterpiece

In Cold Blood (1967) poster art work peter blake scott wilson

In Cold Blood” is ridiculously dark, bleak and emitting a constant resonance of impending doom. Danger is etched upon the faces of the perpetrators, a hollow darkness crosses each of these two young men’s shadows, revealing an evil that can be spontaneously released at any given moment.  That fear keeps you glued to your seat, frighten to look and scared to look away. The realisation that this whole film is based on real events just makes the crime all that more heartbreaking when it comes.

In Cold Blood (1967) Robert Blake plays Perry Smith surreal dream las vegas

With all that gloom though, there is a majestic beauty to this film. The camera work and black and white print is absolute perfection. Every shot hits you with it’s style and every snap shot could fill an art gallery a hundred times over. The skies are vast, the landscapes and dust ridden roads are picturesque and imposing at the same time. Every scene grabs your full attention, every performance has you glued to the screen, every second that ticks away fills you with dread and awe.

In Cold Blood (1967) basement shadows dark light black and white

I believe this movie is a masterpiece from start to finish. Based on Truman Capote’s 1965 nonfiction book called “In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences” where he writes the story as if it’s a novel but all of the narrative are true factual accounts of the actual crime.

In Cold Blood (1967) Robert Blake plays Perry SmithIn Cold Blood (1967) Scott Wilson is Dick Hickock

The subject matter and accounts are truly horrific, getting pushed along by such incredible portrayals from both these young men, both in the performances of a lifetime. Robert Blake plays Perry Smith and Scott Wilson is Dick Hickock.

Psychotic Perry keeps daydreaming from nightmarish incidents in his past to surreal dreams of being happy, singing and playing his guitar. Horny and outspoken Dick uses his confidence to get whatever he wants and under that slim exterior is a devilish raw anger.

In Cold Blood (1967) Robert Blake Perry Smith Scott Wilson Dick Hickock walking

Hot on their tail is police detective Alvin Dewey (John Forsythe) whose voice you will instantly recognise as the boss of those sexy angelic private eyes, Charlie’s Angels and then later the face of Blake Carrington on Dynasty.

In Cold Blood (1967) detective Alvin Dewey (John Forsythe) In Cold Blood (1967) detective Alvin Dewey (John Forsythe) police

Directed and produced by Richard Brooks who also adapted the screenplay from Capote’s book. You get a gorgeous soundtrack from jazz legend and composer Quincy Jones going from somber pieces to firing on all cylinders, building the tension to a feverish frenzy. And all those beautiful cinematography shots are by Conrad L Hall with sublime fade outs and creative cut shot editing by Peter Zinner.

In Cold Blood (1967) Robert Blake Perry Smith Scott Wilson Dick Hickock desert roadIn Cold Blood (1967) landscape car road trip

The language of the time is pretty shocking too, could this be one of the first times in mainstream film that the words “bullshit” “pussy” and “jacking off” were used? Funny as you hear them and worse on a daily basis on just about everything in modern pop culture nowadays but when watching vintage film, it really sticks out.

In Cold Blood (1967) Robert Blake Perry Smith Scott Wilson Dick Hickock

I’m sure there are documents and essays dedicated to detailing the ins and outs of this incredible film. If it’s something that you haven’t seen and you fancy it, I really can’t recommend it enough. It’s tense, shocking and very controversial but damn it is fine film making of the highest order.

Keep discovering new films, thanks for popping on by and feel free to drop a comment on the film if you wish. All the best… Mikey.

PS Someone’s in my wolf den?!!

In Cold Blood (1967) the lone wolf lair den wolfman

17 thoughts on “In Cold Blood (1967) Richard Brooks & Truman Capote’s Devastating Biographic Masterpiece

  1. A “dark and bleak” masterpiece from Brooks, who seems to always get left out of the conversation on great filmmakers, but shouldn’t! And Robert Blake gives his best film performance, evoking much sympathy as the damaged Perry. I’m so glad they chose to shoot in black & white… this is not a Technicolor kind of film!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Big fan of Robert Blake in “Electra Glide In Blue” but this has to be his finest performance like you say. Filled with many layers of his tragic and damaged life. The end speech with the rain on the window looking like a teardrops was powerful. Oh my gosh everything would of been lost if it was in colour!! …. I watched Brooks’s Deadline USA a few months back with Bogart. That was great too. Cheers Gary 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent flick. Great review. I think this might well just be the best true crime flick. Realistic, shocking, violent and it makes for all the more uncomfortable viewing because what you’re seeing happened.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So many layers to it too, the whole Perry story is tragic in itself without the crime. I’m sure you are right, one of the very best true crime films I think I’ve seen too. The two leads definitely pull out performances of a lifetime. Scary how much they look like the real duo too! There’s a point in the film you think you have been spared the actual horrific act but it flashbacks to it later in the film and it’s unimaginable horrific and realistic. Powerful stuff.

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      • Indeed. I highly recommend the film Infamous starring Toby Jones. He plays Truman Capote and the film focuses on how he came to be involved in that case and write the book. Jones is incredible as Capote, he nails the distinctive voice, and he really looks like him too. There is another film about the same story called Capote starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, but although it’s good, he doesn’t really convince as Capote.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh thank you so very much for this information Maddy. I knew of both films esp when they were both released at pretty much the same time. Not sure why I never watch either though!! Also didn’t realise they were both about the “In Cold Blood” story. Had imagined they had taken different paths. I’ll take your knowledge and go for the Toby Jones one. Especially as I just finished the wonderful BBC series Detectorists. Strange choice of Daniel Craig as Perry though. Very much looking forward to seeing the story join the dots. Thank you.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Hope you like it. Capote is worth a watch too. I just don’t know what they were thinking when they cast Hoffman, he looks nothing like Capote. Capote ended up becoming the more acclaimed film of the two, which I think is a real shame. If they had been made at different times it might have been a different story.

            Liked by 1 person

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