On November 15, 1959, two ex-convicts enter a farmhouse in Holcomb, Kansas, where they murder the farmer Herbert Clutter, his wife, and two of their children. They fail to find the large sum of money they hoped to steal and flee to Mexico. Investigators quickly turn to Perry Smith and Dick Hickock as suspects. Back in the US, they are arrested in Las Vegas. The two men are imprisoned, then executed on April 14, 1965 ... The film is based on the eponymous book, for which Truman Capote interviewed the murderers and other key players. Richard Brooks turned it into a masterful black-and-white film that reconstructs the senseless crime with high-contrast camerawork. While classical music sets a peaceful Sunday mood in the victims’ home, the murderers appear to be driven by Quincy Jones’ expressive jazz score. Yet by initially omitting graphic details of the crime and instead revealing the perpetrators’ mental state, the film succeeds, as Capote did, in awakening a certain empathy for them, and in exploring the issue of societal causality, which refutes the murderers’ estimation of themselves as “natural born killers”. – World premiere of the digitally restored 4K DCP version.
by Richard Brooks
with Robert Blake, Scott Wilson, John Forsythe, Paul Stewart, Gerald S. O'Loughlin, Jeff Corey, John Gallaudet, James Flavin, Charles McGraw, Jim Lantz, Will Geer