Thursday, February 09, 2006

In Cold Blood

Columbia Pictures
Director: Richard Brooks
Length: 134 min.
Format: 35mm
Date Viewed: 8 February

Richard Brooks' In Cold Blood is a masterpiece of cinematography and editing. How Conrad Hall and Peter Zinner didn't walk away with awards for their work on this film is beyond me. The shots are framed perfectly and the editing is an display case of fantastic match cuts and of tight cutting. Both men must have been telepathically linked during the making of the film in how well their work complimented each other. The acting in the film is also first-rate, with outstanding performances from Robert Blake and Scott Wilson.

The film is not without its flaws, however. The score occasionally goes over-the-top and becomes a little distracting, and in perhaps the most ridiculous musical cue in cinema history, a female voice sings the word "memories" before the film segues into a flashback. Also, the ending's narration and preachy anti-capitol punishment speech is far too heavy-handed for the film. These flaws do little to hurt In Cold Blood as a whole and it succeeds amazingly well in spite of them.

One more note: It is rare to see a film whose ending is as sobering as this one's. When the slowing heartbeat faded out on the soundtrack, and the title faded in as the sole closing credit, not a person stirred or grabbed their coats. Everyone stayed in their seats until the lights came up. Then, we all walked out of the screening room without uttering a word, into the night as if we really did witness a Federal execution. Even the usually lively Capitol Hill neighborhood seemed incredibly quiet and somber as I walked home in the cold air.


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