Former cell mates Perry Smith (Robert Blake) and Dick Hickock (Scott Wilson) believe they have hit the jackpot when Dick is tipped off about a farmer that holds thousands of dollars in a hidden safe.
The next morning the family is found dead with very little clues as to who committed the heinous crime. KBI agent Alvin Dewey (John Forsythe) is sent to investigate and he is subsequently drawn to the two men who are fleeing to Mexico.
In Cold Blood is based on Truman Capote's critically acclaimed book of the same name. The book is simply excellent and, along with Capote (2005) which follows the author's telling of the story, In Cold Blood - the film - completes a trilogy of impressive storytelling.
Ironically, this is one film that can claim that the reader's imaginations are entirely wrong as it uses many of the real life scenes including the Clutter house and the very same final gallows that hanged Perry Smith. Creepy as this is, it does enhance the sense of realism that director Richard Brooks attempts to convey.
It also follows the storyline in the book very closely and, as this is based on a real 1959 crime, both are contemporary to the event. Whilst Capote was accused of sensationalising some aspects of the story, it cannot be denied that he had an absolutely unique viewpoint in being able to gain access to the prisoners while they were on death row and his insight translates well onto the big screen. Like the book, the film holds back all the gory details until the optimum moment for maximum effect.
The soundtrack initially feels cheesy for how it differs when showing the killers (low, harsh, angry tones) to when the Clutter's are on screen (something more appropriate for deer in a meadow). Whether this dimmed down or whether I got used to it, I don't know, but I was thoroughly impressed with the backing music for the second half of the film. The ending sounds were also very chilling.
This film causes me a dilemma, though. Which medium tells the story best; the book, 2005's Capote, or this? You tell me.