Truman Capote’s book about two young real-life murderers was a shocking bestseller in its day and thought impossible to bring to the screen.
Yet writer/director Richard Brooks did deliver this harrowing movie adaptation, remarkably faithful to its source (Capote had heard the boys’ testimony personally), immaculately photographed in monochrome by master craftsman Conrad Hall.
The film featured two relatively unknown actors, Robert Blake (a former child actor) and Scott Wilson, as the youngsters who wiped out the Clutter family during a Kansas robbery on 15 November 1959.
The mood is properly dour and relentless, and the use of the actual locations is superb.
The supporting cast is full of well-known Hollywood players, with the likes of John Forsythe, Will Geer and Paul Stewart ensuring that the grim subject matter remains resolutely unsensationalised.
Gerald S O’Loughlin