In Cold Blood

I had to go to work, and after someone called in sick, I had to work one extra hour there.  I had to take a nap after I returned home, and then I watched the Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition of “In Cold Blood.”  I had seen it on television many years ago.  I hadn’t realized that there was so much to the film.  I’ll always remember it for the black and white photography, and for Robert Blake’s character swallowing a lot of aspirin.  I can’t believe that anyone could want to put Steve McQueen and Paul Newman in the main roles.  Not only were Perry and Dick violent and small-time losers, but they were dumb.  There was no way that Dick should have acted upon something his cellmate told him.  He was intent on leaving behind no witnesses, but he didn’t account for the most important one.  He should have done some checking because the situation could have changed since he heard the story.  It’s kind of frightening to think about what happened with Robert Blake in real life when you watch this movie.  It’s so odd that he was in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” when he was a child, because it’s mentioned in the dialogue here, and there are elements of that story in this one, too.  Richard Brooks apparently used some authentic locations for this film, like the Clutter house and the courtroom, and the stores and gas station.  The dialogue is surprisingly rough, considering that it was 1967.  Danny DeVito supposedly wanted to play Perry, and Lee Marvin wanted to be in the movie, too.  I couldn’t imagine either of them in those parts.  John Forsythe is part of the investigation, as well as Gerald S. O’Laughlin.  Will Geer was the prosecutor.  I thought it was a strong cast.  I thought that Scott Wilson was exceptionally good.  You knew he was wrong about this whole scheme with the cash in the safe.  He was just too stupid at every turn, and he was going to be caught, too.  They left the house with forty-three dollars, a radio, and a pair of binoculars.  We don’t see how the crime went wrong until near the end, increasing the tension of the movie.  One bit I’ll always remember is how they gained some money by collecting soda bottles.  They collected 420 of them at 3 cents each to get $12.60.  These two were eventually going to get caught.  They should have stayed in Mexico if they wanted to be safe at all, but then they go off to Barstow of all places. They were going to attract all kinds of attention by writing bad checks and stealing cars and license plates.  Robert Blake had a great scene as he talked about his father and his failed business in Alaska.  Perry said that he hated his father, but he also loved him.  The rain from the window made it look like tears were pouring down his eyes all across his face.  The murders happened on November 15, 1959.  The trial ended on March 29, 1960.  Because of the appeals, it took five years for the executions to take place.  It was April 14, 1965 when this story finally came to a close.  The last part of this movie was incredibly frightening and disturbing.  If you want to think about things in a larger sense, it was about the executioner coming to take every one of us in due course.  Perry shot people in the head with a shotgun, but when the time came for him to face death, he was afraid of messing his pants.  If American society was falling apart in 1959 with two people like these, what is it really like now, 57 years later?  I thought about how the Clutter family didn’t lock their door.  They were in a community where crime didn’t happen.  When the father caught the son smoking, that was about the worst thing the kid did in his life.  “In Cold Blood” was released in the same year as “The Graduate,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”  It has been overshadowed in film history, but I think it’s still a strong and lasting achievement.  The subject matter is still relevant.  I think this movie made an impact on my life.  The last shot was incredibly powerful and dramatic.  Watching a movie about murder is exhausting, though.  I went out to buy a burrito, and then I listened to the end of the Warriors game.  They managed to avoid losing one in Minnesota.  I watched the Tonight Show with Kenneth Branagh and Cathy Guisewite.  Some of the people who died on March 22 include Goethe (1832), Michael Todd (1958), Dan Hartman (1994), Walter Lantz (1994), and William Hanna (2001).  Today is a birthday for Bob Costas (64), Andrew Lloyd Webber (68), George Benson (73), William Shatner (85), and Stephen Sondheim (86).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 22, a 19-year-old Barbra Streisand made her Broadway debut in “I Can Get It For You Wholesale” at the Schubert Theatre in 1962.  In 1965, Bob Dylan’s “Bringing It All Back Home” album was released.  In 1971, the Allman Brothers were arrested for possession of heroin, marijuana, and PCP at a truck stop in Jackson, Alabama.

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