In 1959 a wealthy farmer from Holcomb, Kansas and his wife, son and daughter were murdered in their home, in cold blood for money that was kept in a safe that didn’t exist. Truman Capote read the article about the slayings and the search for the killers and travelled to Halcomb to write a 1965 Pulitzer Prize non-fiction novel of the events that lead up to the murder and the eventual executions of the Clutter Family killers, Richard “Dick” Hickock and Perry Smith.
Richard Brooks prepared the adaptation and directed the 1967 film. Some scenes were filmed on the locations of the original events, in Garden City and Holcomb, Kansas including the Clutter residence, the site of the murders. The film stars Robert Blake (former child actor of the Our Gang series and adult TV star from Barretta, who himself would be involved in a mysterious murder of his own wife in early 2001, the murder of his wife Bonnie Bakley thrust Blake into the limelight in a different way. Admittedly having married Bakley through the coercion of her pregnancy, a routine Bakley had apparently tried with various other celebrities, Blake made no denial of his distaste for the woman, but was by all accounts thrilled with the daughter born to them. Blake was arrested for his wife’s murder, but the presumption of innocence trumped what jurors believed to be flimsy evidence, and Blake was acquitted in a trial which made worldwide headlines.) as Perry Smith, Scott Wilson as Dick Hickock, and John Forsythe as Alvin Dewey. A dark, seedy black and white film, brought the horrific murders to reality. Even though there was no blood splattering, or gruesome murder scenes the film showed the gruesome acts by the extraordinary direction by Richard Brooks. The film downplayed the homoerticisim that was evident in Capote’s book, but the movie was nonetheless harrowing and impacted audiences when it released.