"I thought Mr. Clutter was a very nice man. He was a real gentleman. I thought so up to the moment I cut his throat."
- Perry Smith (Robert Blake) to members of the jury
Entertainment Weekly - 11/08/1996
"...Put Blake on the fast-track....Chilling, inevitable..." -- Rating: A-
USA Today - 09/26/2003
"...Robert Blake and Scott Wilson remain memorable..."
Total Film - 11/01/2003
"...Superbly shot in black-and-white..."
IN COLD BLOOD is Richard Brooks' stylish and powerful 1967 drama adapted from Truman Capote's novel about a shocking real-life murder case. This daring cinematic portrait employs flashbacks to fully examine what drives an individual to commit thoughtless and brutal crimes, while using a highly innovative jazz score by Quincy Jones to capture the moody atmosphere. Capote's own role as researcher-narrator of the young criminals' intense friendship, fantasies, and troubled lives is effectively brought to the screen in this striking, groundbreaking drama.
Two aimless drifters, Perry Smith (Robert Blake) and Dick Hickock (Scott Wilson), target the home of Kansas businessman Herbert Clutter. After breaking into the house, they find no money, and Smith and Hickock brutally kill the entire Clutter family. They escape the scene of the crime and head for Mexico, but they eventually go back to the States, ultimately returning to Kansas. After being chased for almost a year, the troubled drifters are captured and sentenced to death.
Richard Brooks was determined to bring a realistic feeling to the screen, so he filmed in the actual locations of the murder and surrounding town--including in the Clutter house, where the murders took place, and the actual courtroom. Nancy Clutter's horse, Babe, was even used in a few scenes, and the hangman in the movie is the actual hangman who executed the real Hickock and Smith.
Brooks also fought against Hollywood conventions and studio Columbia Pictures in order to film in black and white and to cast relative unknowns Robert Blake and Scott Wilson in the lead roles.
Filming through a window, cinematographer Conrad Hall encountered a startling accidental effect of water running down the window, giving actor Robert Blake the appearance of tears his character would never shed. This accident created what would become one of the film's most memorable and devastating shots.