In Cold Blood (1967)

in cold blood poster 1967 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 10/10

Taut, stylish thriller


Movie Info

Movie Name: In Cold Blood

Studio: Pax Enterprises, Inc.

Genre(s): Drama

Release Date(s): December 14, 1967

MPAA Rating: R

in cold blood las vegas robert blake scott wilson perry smith dick hickcock murderers

Two guys hitting Vegas…nothing odd…

Dick (Scott Wilson) and Perry (Robert Blake) are convicts on the run. Going to the home of the Clutters in Kansas, Perry and Dick hope for a big score and end up with a massacre. Police and detectives are on the trail of the murders, and Dick and Perry’s dreams of a future are becoming nightmares due to their actions.

Directed by Richard Brooks, In Cold Blood is a true-crime thriller. The film adopts the 1966 Truman Capote book detailing the murders of Herbert Clutter, Bonnie Clutter, Nancy Clutter, and Kenyon Clutter on November 15, 1959 by Richard “Dick” Hickock and Perry Smith. The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score and was selected for preservation in National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2008. The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #781).

in cold blood robert blake perry smith

The tortured soul or cold-blooded killer?

In Cold Blood was a strange and different novel by the soft-spoken Truman Capote. You have a cold-blooded murder, a criminal investigation, and two murderers whose background and upbringing can be analyzed due to their behavior and actions. The movie is a tight thriller that remains strong.

The film largely sticks to the events of the murder. The crimes are horrific and the murders (even by today’s standards) were brutal. The film smartly doesn’t portray the events of what happened in the house until the end of the film (though you know what happened) and it helps add to the development of the two murderers. The film weirdly omits Truman Capote and uses a stand in narrator to replace him (Truman’s behavior himself would have been too distracting…the events served as the basis for the Philip Seymour Hoffman 2005 film).

The cast and the film resurfaced after the 2001 murder of Robert Blake’s wife Bonnie Lee Bakley. Blake’s role seemed to be reevaluated at this point and the film got more attention. Blake is great as the murderer with a conscious (though he is the trigger man) and he’s backed up by the Scott Wilson who has a colder approach to the crimes.

in cold blood dick hickock scott wilson herbert clutter john mcliam

The crime….

The film looks great. It takes a stark (and unusual) black-and-white approach to the storytelling which emphasizes the noir aspect of the crimes and investigation. It really adds a texture to the story and the film gets a sense of timelessness due to the look and style of the film.

In Cold Blood is a great adaptation of a great book. The crime itself remains interesting and the “characters” involved in the crime are also worth studying. You could argue that more attention should be paid to the victims of the crime, and this would be a legitimate complaint…but it wasn’t really about it. It is the story of a cold blooded murder in the heartland of America…an anti-American tale that feels oddly American.

Related Links:

Capote (2005)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response