The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Columbia Pictures - 1967
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 134 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English/French Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Dutch, Arabic
Starring: Robert Black, Scott Wilson, John Forsythe
Written for the screen & Directed by: Richard Brooks
Music by: Quincy Jones
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 7, 2010
"A dark film based on a true story"
IN COLD BLOOD is the powerful, true story of a callous murder, based upon the best-selling novel byTruman Capote. A prosperous and respected Kansas farmer, his wife and his two teenage children are wantonly and brutally slaughtered. The murderers are two mindless ex-convict drifters: Perry Smith (Robert Blake) and Dick Hickock (Scott Wilson). Neither of the men are sane enough to regret their crime. The story penetrates the inner workings of the criminals minds as it follows their purposeless meandering through Mexico and the United States in evasion of the law. After more than a year of wandering, the hunted men are finally caught, tried and in a dramatic conclusion condemned to hang.
In Cold Blood is a film based on the 1966 novel by Truman Capote that details the brutal 1959 murders of Herbert Clutter, a wealthy farmer from Holcomb, Kansas, and his wife and two of their children. The film, written for the screen and directed by Richard Brooks is portrayed in a visual expose that examines the psyche, especially the deeply troubled Perry Smith, of the two killers. This is a dark film both visually and thematically that follows Hickock and Smith both pre/post murders using a staggered narrative style that carefully derives an image (accurate or not) of two men whose lives converge at a single point that seemingly began from two very different beginnings. Brooks takes us to a point just prior to the killers entering the house and abruptly switches to the following day with the discovery of the victims bodies. The story moves on the subsequent investigation, the lawmen who head it, and continue to follow Smith and Hickock as the traverse the country writing a series of bad checks in an attempt to raise the money necessary to go to Mexico. It is during this time that the story portrays these two men in a congenial light that could even derive empathy. Perry has delusions about his relationship with his father, as a child he witnessed unspeakable acts by his alcoholic mother and suffers from bouts where hallucinations, brought on by negative childhood memories, distort reality. Dick, once a promising student/athlete has lost his wife and children, after being caught an illicit fling, and is coping with guilt over his terminally ill father.
While our guard is never completely let down the script subliminally lulls into a softened viewpoint of Smith and Hickock, especially since to that point we never actually see what happened to the Clutters. With the further development of the story, the police close in and Smith and Hickock are apprehended. It is then that we are taken back to that night and the events as they transpired as told by Perry Smith. The chilling aspects of the murders and the wanton nature of their origination and its despicable elements are conveyed with visceral gravity. Smith and Hickock are tried, convicted and hanged for the deaths of the Clutters. The finale proves bittersweet as the realization that six people, four innocent and two guilty are dead and that three broken families are left in their wake. In cold blood was nominated for four Academy Awards and is dark, disturbing and purely visceral in its portrayal of the complex psychological relationship between Richard "Dick" Hickock and Perry Smith, two men who together commit a heinous crime, an act that individually they were probably not capable of. This is a well enacted and aptly directed film with superlative production value. By today's standards the murder scene would be considered far from graphic however Conrad Hall's captivating cinematography combined with the haunting portrayal of Perry Smith by Robert Blake and Quincy Jones' eclectic music score prove quite evocative. This is my first time seeing In cold blood but it definitely won't be my last. Wow.
The rating is for language, sensuality and thematic violence.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
In cold blood comes to Blu-ray from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 21 Mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio that has an average bitrate of 1.3 Mbps.
This 2.35:1 framed black and white high definition video presentation is impressive for a 40 + year old film. The master is in good shape with no visible signs of wear. Images onscreen have excellent depth with rendering that draws out plenty of delineation. Close ups and mid level pans reveal perceptible detail in the faces, hair and clothing worn by the cast as well as the texture on surfaces within the frame. This adds a noticeable sense of depth to the image making it appear more lifelike. Blacks have plenty of dynamic range and consistency which played very well against the various stages of white and gray. The film uses lots of low light interior and exterior scenes. The superb/signature cinematography by Conrad Hall uses a variety of lighting schemes and purposeful shadows that look amazing in high definition. Contrast is stable and supports the film's elements quite well. Even in black and white it was easy to make out the different tonal qualities inherent in the skin tones of the cast. I always find it interesting to see how they appear without color. I can't say for sure how well this would come across in standard definition but in HD it was noticeable. Grain was present in fine, even layers that appeared to be preserved naturally. There is some minor banding visible here and there but it's not problematic. I saw no other signs of video anomalies, bit starvation or compression related artifacts. Keeping in mind that this film is 40 years old fidelity appears intact which results in an enriching and filmic presentation that looks great.
The Dolby TrueHD multi-channel audio presented this soundtrack's elements quite well. This is a dialogue driven film but it contains a variety of sounds and music score that benefit from the high resolution afforded by lossless sound. The originally recorded elements sound one dimensional and dated but refined and dynamically supported. There are many moments where there is no dialogue and the only auditory used to tell the story, are the music and/or a series of sounds. They are cleanly reproduced and free from strident highs or an edgy mid range. The front soundstage is narrow but opens up nicely when Quincy Jones' eclectic music takes center stage. There isn't much in the way of surround sound or low frequency effects but there wouldn't have been originally so adding it would have sounded unnatural. Based upon the thematic tone of the film and the age of the recording I think this presentation is not only appropriate but sounds very good.
- BD-Live enabled
In Cold Blood is a film based on the 1966 novel by Truman Capote that details the brutal 1959 murders of Herbert Clutter, a wealthy farmer from Holcomb, Kansas, and his wife and two of their children. The film, written for the screen and directed by Richard Brooks is portrayed in a compelling visual expose that proves dark, disturbing and purely visceral in its depiction of the complex psychological relationship between the convicted killers Richard "Dick" Hickock and Perry Smith. While some viewers may find the subject matter and its depiction in the film disturbing there is no denying that In Cold Blood is filmmaking at its best. I can't think of a better way to experience it than this stand alone Blu-ray release from Sony which offers rewarding and faithful high definition video quality and crystal clear lossless Dolby TrueHD sound.
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