DVD Review: In Cold Blood
In recent years, the story behind the making of Truman Capote’s famous “nonfiction novel” In Cold Blood has become almost as famous as the book and film adaptation themselves, due to the Oscar-winning movie Capote and the less-lauded but still-praised Infamous. Contrary to the common assertion, Capote did not invent the true-crime genre: many journalists and historians produced notable works decades before Capote, but he did popularize it.
The 1967 movie adaptation In Cold Blood, written and directed by Richard Brooks, is a classic. The film tells the true story of how two criminals, Perry Smith (Robert Blake) and Dick Hickock (Scott Wilson), murdered an entire family in a peaceful Kansas town as part of a robbery that proved far less successful than they could have imagined. The duo went on to have several misadventures before their eventual arrest and trial, and the movie explores the relationships between the men. At times, the film attempts to explain why such horrible crimes can happen, but with varying levels of success, namely due to the fictionalized character of The Reporter, whose moralizing commentary seems jarringly out of place at times.
Though earlier editions of the movie have been released on DVD, the new Criterion Collection release is definitely worthwhile for anybody with an interest in the film. Prior to this DVD, I had only seen In Cold Blood on television, and the viewing experience is far sharper and clearer than the print used on the network broadcast. Furthermore, the network broadcast edited out numerous scenes for time and content, and the missing scenes add grittiness and even more unsettling evil to the narrative.
As usual, Criterion includes plenty of fascinating extras, including featurettes on the cinematography, editing, and scoring; a profile and interview of the director; the Maysles brothers’ documentary With Love from Truman; other interviews with Capote; a detailed essay; and the original trailer. Even if one has already seen the film, this new release is bound to provide additional understanding and appreciation for the movie and the creative forces behind it. The movie itself is a chilling portrait of men gone horribly wrong, and the special features will interest anybody who wants to learn more about the making of the film, though people who want to learn more about the crimes at the heart of the plot will need to look elsewhere for more information.
In Cold Blood
$29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-Ray