This film is on an extended run from 11th September at BFI Southbank. You can find details of all the screenings here.
No one who has ever seen it forgets the beginning of Richard Brooks’s 1967 adaptation of Truman Capote’s “non-fiction novel” In Cold Blood: a Greyhound bus howls out of an ink-black prairie night, Kansas City its destination, on a screaming trumpet note from Quincy Jones’s score. Inside the darkened bus we glimpse seated silhouettes, and a child making her way towards the rear. She sees a boot sole with two catspaw studs – these will eventually convict their owner of murder – and the outline of a man holding a guitar. He strikes a match on the boot – in the fierce blackness, it registers like Hiroshima – and moves it toward his cigarette and his face, which fills the screen: Robert Blake (who was later an acquitted murder suspect in real life) is Perry Smith, convicted killer of four, the hanged man.
All of In Cold Blood’s virtues are encapsulated in that opening: the black-and-white camerawork of cinematographer Conrad Hall; the music of Jones; and the performance of Robert Blake. Hall’s work draws on news-footage aesthetics, achieving a true-crime tabloid griminess that evokes photographers such as Walker Evans and Robert Frank. Jones sonically anchors his two killers (Smith and Richard “Dick” Hickock, played by Scott Wilson) with unnerving twinned acoustic basses and found sounds. And Robert Blake is Robert Blake, in the keynote performance of his career.
John Patterson (you can read the full feature via this link)
Here (and above) is the trailer.