Capote (2005)

R | 109 or 114-115 mins | Biography | 30 September 2005

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HISTORY

Only the names of the production and distribution companies and the film’s title appear at the beginning of the picture; all other credits appear at the end. Before the ending credits, written titles state that In Cold Blood made Truman Capote the most famous author in America, although he never finished another book before his death in 1984 from complications due to alcoholism. The titles also note that the epigraph for Capote's last, unfinished novel, Answered Prayers , was taken from a quote by St. Teresa of Avila and reads: "More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.”
       The actors are listed twice in the end credits; in the first instance, Philip Seymour Hoffman is listed above the title and the major actors are then given, while in the second scroll, all of the actors are listed in order of appearance. One of the ending credits notes that the picture was produced “with the participation of Manitoba Film & Sound.” Another ending credit reads: “Shot on location in the province of Manitoba with the participation of the Manitoba Film and Video Production Tax Credit and the British Columbia Production Services Tax Credit.” Although reviews of the film’s showings at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals listed running times of 114 or 115 minutes, reviews at the time of the Sep 2005 limited release gave a running time of 109 minutes. The actual murders of the Clutter family are not seen until late in the film, as a flashback when “Perry” describes them to “Truman.”
       As depicted in the film, by 1959, Truman Capote (1924--1984) was a world-renowned novelist ... More Less

Only the names of the production and distribution companies and the film’s title appear at the beginning of the picture; all other credits appear at the end. Before the ending credits, written titles state that In Cold Blood made Truman Capote the most famous author in America, although he never finished another book before his death in 1984 from complications due to alcoholism. The titles also note that the epigraph for Capote's last, unfinished novel, Answered Prayers , was taken from a quote by St. Teresa of Avila and reads: "More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.”
       The actors are listed twice in the end credits; in the first instance, Philip Seymour Hoffman is listed above the title and the major actors are then given, while in the second scroll, all of the actors are listed in order of appearance. One of the ending credits notes that the picture was produced “with the participation of Manitoba Film & Sound.” Another ending credit reads: “Shot on location in the province of Manitoba with the participation of the Manitoba Film and Video Production Tax Credit and the British Columbia Production Services Tax Credit.” Although reviews of the film’s showings at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals listed running times of 114 or 115 minutes, reviews at the time of the Sep 2005 limited release gave a running time of 109 minutes. The actual murders of the Clutter family are not seen until late in the film, as a flashback when “Perry” describes them to “Truman.”
       As depicted in the film, by 1959, Truman Capote (1924--1984) was a world-renowned novelist and short story writer ( Other Voices, Other Rooms , Breakfast at Tiffany’s ); screenwriter (1954’s Beat the Devil , see below); and writer of short nonfiction and fiction pieces for The New Yorker magazine. The openly gay Capote, who lived with companion Jack Dunphy, a fellow writer, from 1948 until Capote’s death in 1984, was also well-known as a raconteur and for his intimate friendships with the rich, influential women he called his “swans,” such as Babe Paley, Lee Radziwill and Slim Keith. After having written several well-received nonfiction pieces, including an interview with Marlon Brando that was published in The New Yorker , Capote had become increasingly interested in writing nonfiction instead of returning to novels or short stories.
       While looking for a subject, he came across the NYT ’s brief description of the murders of Herb, Bonnie, Kenyon and Nancy Clutter. The writer’s experiences in Kansas while researching the case with his childhood friend, author Nelle Harper Lee, who wrote under the pen name Harper Lee, are depicted realistically in the film, including the Kansans’ initial wariness and their subsequent acceptance of him. Capote did become very close with the Clutters’ killers, Richard Eugene Hickock (1931--1965) and Perry Edward Smith (1928--1965), especially Smith. Raised by his alcoholic, Cherokee mother and orphaned at age fourteen, Smith felt a kinship with Capote, who also suffered a lonely childhood after being repeatedly abandoned by his alcoholic mother. After a motorcycle accident in 1952, Smith was left with a permanent limp and great pain in both legs, and his short stature was another commonality between him and Capote. A burglar and conman, Smith met Hickock, another longtime petty criminal, in the Kansas State Penitentiary. It was in prison that Hickock was falsely informed by a fellow inmate, a former employee of the Clutters, that Herb Clutter often kept as much as $10,000 in cash at his farmhouse. Having decided before the robbery that they would kill all witnesses, Smith and Hickock murdered the Clutters early in the morning on 15 Nov 1959, then evaded police until they were caught in Las Vegas on 30 Dec 1959 and returned to Kansas. After being found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder, they were sentenced to be hanged.
       With the help of Capote, who initially paid for their legal counsel, the two killers received several stays of execution and appeals. Capote visited them often in prison, supplying them with art materials and books, and some acquaintances of the author have speculated that he fell in love with Smith. As portrayed in the film, Capote was deeply conflicted about Smith’s and Hickock’s executions, as he needed a definite ending for his book, yet had come to care deeply for both of them. At their request, he witnessed their hangings on 14 Apr 1965, and after paying for their headstones, spoke out frequently against the death penalty. Still somewhat conservative politically, however, and loyal to lawmen such as Alvin Dewey of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, in Jul 1966 Capote testified before a Senate sub-committee against the U.S. Supreme Court’s Miranda ruling, which he felt hampered law enforcement.
       As noted by several reviews of Capote , In Cold Blood was not the first nonfiction book written in a novelistic style, but it did cement Capote’s reputation as one of the foremost American writers of the twentieth century and change the way nonfiction writing was received. After In Cold Blood was serialized in four issues of The New Yorker (Oct-Nov 1965), it was published in hardback in Jan 1966 and became an international bestseller. Capote dedicated the book to Dunphy and Lee. A film version of In Cold Blood , directed by Richard Brooks and starring Robert Blake and Scott Wilson, was released by Columbia in 1967 (see below). A television movie, also titled In Cold Blood , directed by Jonathan Kaplan and starring Eric Roberts and Anthony Edwards, was broadcast on the NBC network in 1996. Later in his life, when discussing what was arguably his most famous book, Capote stated that he would have fled from Kansas “like a bat out of hell” if he could have anticipated the emotional toll it would take on him.
       Although Capote ’s end titles correctly note that the author did not finish his long-planned novel Answered Prayers before his death, in 1980 he did publish Music for Chameleons , a highly praised collection of short stories, essays and the nonfiction novella Handcarved Coffins , about a murderer in a small western town. After the mid-1970s publication of chapters from Answered Prayers , in which many of his society friends thought they recognized thinly veiled, vicious portraits of themselves and turned against the author, Capote became increasingly reclusive and more dependent on alcohol and drugs. He died in 1984 at the age of fifty-nine. Capote was put into limited release on 30 Sep 2005, on what would have been the writer’s eighty-first birthday.
       Gerald Clarke, who spent thirteen years writing his biography of Capote, on which the film was based, also edited a volume of the author’s letters, including many to Alvin and Marie Dewey, with whom Capote maintained a lifelong friendship. The volume of letters, entitled Too Brief a Treat , was published in 2004. In addition to Alvin and Marie Dewey, other real-life people portrayed in Capote include Capote’s childhood friend Nelle Harper Lee (b. 1926), whom he met in Alabama and who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird (the book’s character “Dill” was inspired by Capote); world-renowned fashion photographer Richard Avedon (1923--2004), who is portrayed in the film by Capote 's cinematographer, Adam Kimmel, and who collaborated with Capote on the 1959 book Observations ; writer Jack Dunphy (1915--1992), Capote’s longtime companion who published a memoir of their relationship in 1987; and Wallace Shawn (1907--1992), the influential editor of The New Yorker and one of Capote’s most important supporters.
       Capote marked the first screenplay written by television and movie actor Dan Futterman, and the first fictional feature film directed by Bennett Miller, who had previously directed the well-received 1998 documentary The Cruise and numerous television commercials. In addition, Capote marked the first producing effort by Philip Seymour Hoffman and the initial picture turned out by his newly formed Cooper's Town Productions. As related in numerous contemporary sources, Futterman, Hoffman and Miller became friends at the age of sixteen. Futterman stated in interviews that he first became interested in the subject of journalistic ethics after reading Janet Malcolm’s 1990 book about the relationship between writer Joe McGinniss and notorious convicted killer Jeffrey MacDonald. After reading Clarke’s biography of Capote, Futterman then worked for at least four years on the screenplay of Capote .
       After Bennett and Hoffman agreed to participate in Futterman’s project, they had difficulties obtaining funding. On 9 Sep 2003, DV announced that Caroline Baron had secured funds for the film through the New York-based company Cyan Pictures, and that Joshua Newman and Colin Spoelman would executive-produce the project. Apparently that deal fell through, although Baron remained one of the film’s producers. According to a 26 Sep 2005 LAT article, William Vince and Michael Ohoven of Infinity Media, Inc., who had a prior relationship with United Artists, agreed to provide production funds, with the rest of the financing coming from United Artists. According to a 25 Aug 2004 HR news item, Samantha Morton was originally sought for the role of “Nelle.”
       In news articles and the film’s presskit, Clarke noted that he showed Futterman the many letters written by Smith and Hickock to Capote, which had been given to him by Capote, and which he had never shown to another writer. According to the Sep 2005 LAT article, Clarke’s many hours of taped interviews with Capote were used by Hoffman while the actor was researching the role; he also viewed a 1966 documentary produced by Albert and David Maysles just after the publication of In Cold Blood , which featured Capote discussing the case extensively. Hoffman noted how important the tapes and documentary were in capturing Capote’s unusual, often-parodied speaking voice and mannerisms. It was reported by LAT and other sources that in order to gain more insight into Capote’s character, Hoffman improvised all of his dialogue during the cocktail party sequences. In a Nov 2005 interview with the Village Voice , Bennett stated that he compensated for the size disparity between Hoffman and the diminutive Capote by “casting taller people around” Hoffman. In a Jan 2006 television interview, Hoffman added that he lost approximately forty pounds to make himself slimmer for the role.
       According to contemporary sources, the film, which had an estimated $7 million budget, was shot in 36 days, primarily in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Producer Caroline Baron had previously worked with Hoffman on the 1999 film Flawless . Capote marked the first production designer credit for Jess Gonchor. Some sources list Michelle Harrison as playing “Babe Paley,” but neither that character nor Harrison appears in the completed picture. Online sources include the following actors in the cast: Michal Grajewski, Ernesto Griffith, Jerome Greencorn, Tiffany Lyndall-Knight, Brad Badiuk, Cory Cassidy, Edgar Governo, Roy MacEachern and Bob Washington, some of whom may have been in scenes deleted from the released picture. As reported by a 15 Jul 2005 Screen International article, Capote was one of the last films financed by United Artists before its parent company, M-G-M, was “bought by a consortium lead by Sony Pictures Entertainment.” According to a 25 Sep 2005 NYT article, Miller showed a rough cut of Capote to Sony executives after the sale, and they agreed to let Sony’s “specialty film division,” Sony Picture Classics, distribute the picture.
       The film received glowing reviews, with Hoffman being singled out for special praise. Roger Ebert stated that Hoffman’s “precise, uncanny performance as Capote doesn’t imitate the author so much as channel him” and the LAT critic asserted that Hoffman’s “insightful portrait of Capote” was “as empathetic as it is brutally honest.” Hoffman, who won the Academy Award for Best Actor, also received a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actor--Drama and was named the best actor of the year by the National Board of Review, the Broadcast Film Critics Association and numerous critics' groups, including the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Hoffman also received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Male Lead and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role.
       Futterman and Miller also received acclaim for their work on the picture, with the DV critic commending them for demonstrating “a sure-footedness and maturity that usually are the domain of far more experienced filmmakers.” WSJ called the film “the most thoughtful mainstream feature ever made about writers and writing.” In addition to being named one of AFI’s ten Movies of the Year for 2005, Capote received Academy Award nominations for Best Film, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. It was also named the best picture of the year by the Independent Feature Project, which awarded Miller the breakthrough director award. Futterman and writer Noah Baumbach ( The Squid and The Whale , see below) were both awarded Best Screenplay of 2005 by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and Futterman and Clarke were awarded the USC Scripter Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Capote received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture—Drama; Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Feature, Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography; a Writers Guild of America nomination for Adapted Screenplay; a Directors Guild of America nomination for Best Feature Film; a Producers Guild of America nomination for Best Film; and a SAG nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. In addition, Catherine Keener was named Best Supporting Actress by several critics' groups and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress as well as a SAG nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role.
       At the time that the filmmakers of Capote were trying to obtain backing for their production, Warner Independent Pictures and Killer Films announced that they were also making a film about Capote and his experiences while writing In Cold Blood , which was to be based on George Plimpton’s 1997 interview-format biography of Capote. Alternately titled Every Word Is True , Have You Heard? and Infamous , the picture, directed by Douglas McGrath, stars British actor Toby Jones as Capote and Sandra Bullock as Nelle, and as of late 2005, the rival project is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2006. According to an Oct 2005 Vanity Fair article, the release date of Infamous was pushed back in order not to conflict with Capote . Capote’s experiences writing In Cold Blood were also depicted in the 2005 graphic novel Capote in Kansas , written by Ande Parks and illustrated by Chris Samnee. Capote was also the subject of writer-director Jay Presson Allen's one-man play Tru , for which actor Robert Morse won Tony and Emmy Awards. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Chicago Sun-Times
16 Oct 2005.
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Chicago Sun-Times
21 Oct 2005.
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Daily Variety
9 Sep 2003
p. 3, 14.
Daily Variety
1 Nov 2004.
---
Daily Variety
6 Sep 2005
p. 9, 16.
Daily Variety
16 Nov 2005.
---
Daily Variety
1 Dec 2005.
---
Entertainment Weekly
7 Oct 2005
pp. 29-32, 49-50.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 2004
p. 1, 19.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 2004.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 2004.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Dec 2004.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 2005
p. 14, 40.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Sep 2005.
---
LA Weekly
30 Sep 2005.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Sep 2005
Calendar, p. 1, 5.
Los Angeles Times
26 Sep 2005
Calendar, p. 1, 10-11.
Los Angeles Times
30 Sep 2005
Calendar, p. 1, 22.
Los Angeles Times
2 Oct 2005
Calendar, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
25 Nov 2005.
---
New Republic
24 Oct 2005
p. 22.
New York Times
13 Jul 2005.
---
New York Times
25 Sep 2005
p. 14, 22.
New York Times
27 Sep 2005
The Arts, p. 1, 8.
New Yorker
10 Oct 2005
pp. 94-95.
Premiere
Sep 2005
p. 76.
Premiere
Nov 2005
pp. 48-49.
Rolling Stone
6 Oct 2005.
---
Screen International
11 Mar 2005.
---
Screen International
15 Jul 2005.
---
Screen International
23 Sep 2005.
---
Vanity Fair
Oct 2005
pp. 164-178.
Variety
5 Sep 2005
p. 31, 35.
Variety
19 Sep 2005.
---
Village Voice
28 Sep 2005.
---
Village Voice
2-8 Nov 2005
p. 10.
Wall Street Journal
30 Sep 2005
p. W1, W4.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
In Order of Appearance
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
3rd asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Line prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Manitoba co-prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam trainee
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Lead elec
Chief rigging elec
Asst rigging elec
Generator op
Dolly grip
2d company grip
Lead grip
Key rigging grip
2d company rigging grip
Cameras by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
Graphic artist
Art dept asst
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Props buyer
Lead dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
On-set dresser
Sets buyer
Const coord
Head carpenter
Key scenic artist
Scenic artist
Key greens
Paint foreman
Painter
COSTUMES
Asst cost des
Asst cost des
Set cost supv
Truck cost
Extras cost coord
Cost asst
IA cost trainee
FTM cost intern
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus comp and prod
Piano
Mus ed
Musicians contractor
Mus rec and mixed by
Asst eng
Asst to the comp
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Re-rec sd mixer
Re-rec sd mixer
Re-rec sd mixer
Sd eff ed
Asst sd ed
Sd mix tech
Sd mix recordist
Foley ed
Foley artist
Foley recordist
Sd post prod
Sd post prod
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
FTM sd trainee
Optical sd negative by
Dolby sd consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Mechanical spec eff coord
1st asst spec eff
Digital opticals and visual eff
VFX prod
VFX project mgr
Lead inferno artist
Digital matte painting
Inferno compositor
Shake compositor
2K scanning & rec
2K scanning & rec
MAKEUP
Key makeup
1st asst makeup
2d asst makeup/IA trainee
Spec eff makeup artist
Spec eff makeup asst
Key hair
1st asst hair
2d asst hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Canadian casting
Canadian casting
Manitoba casting
Casting assoc
Canadian casting assoc
Winnipeg casting asst
Extras casting
Extras casting asst
Extras casting asst
Scr supv
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Exec in charge of post prod
Infinity prod exec
Infinity prod exec
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst prod coord
Key set prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod accountant
1st asst accountant
Accounting clerk
Accounting clerk
Post prod accountant
Post prod clerk
Log mgr
Log mgr, Prep
Asst loc mgr
Off-set asst loc mgr
Off-set asst loc mgr
Key loc prod asst
Key loc prod asst
Loc scout prod asst
Loc prod asst
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Picture vehicle asst
Picture vehicle driver
Cam car op
Unit pub
Scr researcher
[Attorney]
[Attorney]
Prod counsel
Prod counsel
Asst to Bennett Miller
Asst to Caroline Baron
Asst to Caroline Baron
Asst to Philip Seymour Hoffman
Asst to William Vince
Exec asst to Michael Ohoven
Asst to Jacques Méthé & William Vince
FTM prod office intern
New York prod intern
New York prod intern
New York prod intern
New York prod intern
New York prod intern
New York prod intern
Catering chef
Sous chef
3rd asst caterer
Key craft service/First aid
Craft service asst
Head of security
Security
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Perry Smith stunt double
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Technicolor coord
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Capote: A Biography by Gerald Clarke (New York, 1988).
AUTHOR
MUSIC
“Hot Cha Cha,” written by Ramon E. Valdes, performed by Bebo Valdes, courtesy of Absolute Spain
“My Little Suede Shoes,” written by Charlie Parker, performed by Paul Smith Trio, courtesy of Criterion Music Productions
“Rojo,” written by Red Garland, performed by Red Garland, courtesy of Fantasy
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MUSIC
“Hot Cha Cha,” written by Ramon E. Valdes, performed by Bebo Valdes, courtesy of Absolute Spain
“My Little Suede Shoes,” written by Charlie Parker, performed by Paul Smith Trio, courtesy of Criterion Music Productions
“Rojo,” written by Red Garland, performed by Red Garland, courtesy of Fantasy
“Paula’s Nightmare,” written by Paula Watson, performed by Paula Watson, courtesy of Tuff City Records/Night Train International, by arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group
“Easy to Remember,” written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, performed by John Coltrane, courtesy of Verve Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises.
+
SONGS
“Cherry,” written by Ray Gilbert and Donald Redman, performed by Alan Paul, courtesy of Peer-Southern Productions, Inc.
“Sugar (That Sugar Baby o’ Mine),” written by Edna Alexander, Sidney Mitchell and Maceo Pinkard, performed by Billie Holiday, courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
“My Man Is Gone,” written by Jack Lauderdale, performed by Emanon Trio, courtesy of Tuff City Records/Night Train International, by arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group
+
SONGS
“Cherry,” written by Ray Gilbert and Donald Redman, performed by Alan Paul, courtesy of Peer-Southern Productions, Inc.
“Sugar (That Sugar Baby o’ Mine),” written by Edna Alexander, Sidney Mitchell and Maceo Pinkard, performed by Billie Holiday, courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
“My Man Is Gone,” written by Jack Lauderdale, performed by Emanon Trio, courtesy of Tuff City Records/Night Train International, by arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group
“Butcher Boy,” traditional, performed by Lilly Brothers, courtesy of Prestige Folklore.
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DETAILS
Release Date:
30 September 2005
Premiere Information:
Telluride Film Festival: 2 September 2005
Toronto International Film Festival: 10 September 2005
New York and Los Angeles openings: 30 September 2005
Production Date:
30 October--mid December 2004 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Copyright Claimants:
United Artists Films, Inc. Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Copyright Dates:
3 October 2005 3 October 2005
Copyright Numbers:
PA0001267185 PA0001267185
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Digital in selected theatres
Color
Kodak Motion Picture Film; Technicolor
Lenses/Prints
Prints by Deluxe
Duration(in mins):
109 or 114-115
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
Canada, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
41953
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On 15 November 1959, teenager Laura Kinney finds the body of her best friend, Nancy Clutter, who has been murdered along with Nancy's father Herb, mother Bonnie and younger brother Kenyon in their farmhouse in rural Holcomb, Kansas. The next day in New York City, famed writer and bon vivant Truman Capote reads The New York Times , searching for a nonfiction story about which to write. Intrigued by the small article about the Clutters, Truman calls William Shawn, the editor of The New Yorker , which frequently publishes Truman’s work, and tells him that he has found his subject. Truman is accompanied to Kansas by his childhood friend, Nelle Harper Lee, who is devoted to the openly homosexual, erudite and charming Truman, despite his egotism and biting humor. Upon arriving at Garden City, near Holcomb, Truman and Nelle introduce themselves to Alvin Dewey of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, who is heading the inquiry into the Clutters’ deaths, to ask for an interview. Truman explains that he is writing an article about the effect of the shocking violence on the small town and does not care if the killers are ever caught. Bitterly declaring that he does care, Dewey dismisses Nelle and Truman, who then attend Dewey’s next press conference along with throngs of ... +


On 15 November 1959, teenager Laura Kinney finds the body of her best friend, Nancy Clutter, who has been murdered along with Nancy's father Herb, mother Bonnie and younger brother Kenyon in their farmhouse in rural Holcomb, Kansas. The next day in New York City, famed writer and bon vivant Truman Capote reads The New York Times , searching for a nonfiction story about which to write. Intrigued by the small article about the Clutters, Truman calls William Shawn, the editor of The New Yorker , which frequently publishes Truman’s work, and tells him that he has found his subject. Truman is accompanied to Kansas by his childhood friend, Nelle Harper Lee, who is devoted to the openly homosexual, erudite and charming Truman, despite his egotism and biting humor. Upon arriving at Garden City, near Holcomb, Truman and Nelle introduce themselves to Alvin Dewey of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, who is heading the inquiry into the Clutters’ deaths, to ask for an interview. Truman explains that he is writing an article about the effect of the shocking violence on the small town and does not care if the killers are ever caught. Bitterly declaring that he does care, Dewey dismisses Nelle and Truman, who then attend Dewey’s next press conference along with throngs of reporters. Because the townspeople are wary of the flamboyant Truman, he allows Nelle to take the lead in approaching Laura. Soothed when Truman confides that people often misjudge him because of his looks and his unusual, high-pitched voice, Laura gives him Nancy’s diary. Truman and Nelle make another inroad when Dewey’s wife Marie, a native of New Orleans as is Truman, invites the famous writer of Breakfast at Tiffany’s to dinner. Truman’s sparkling storytelling wins over Marie, but it is his moving description of his stepfather’s reaction to his mother’s death that persuades Dewey, who was friends with Herb, to show Truman and Nelle the crime scene photos. Studying the grisly pictures, Truman comments on the incongruity of the violence and the seeming tenderness of the killers, as Nancy had been tucked into her bed and a pillow placed under Kenyon’s head before they were shot. Back at their hotel, Nelle and Truman are celebrating that Nelle’s first book, To Kill a Mockingbird , is about to be published when Jack Dunphy, Truman’s longtime companion, telephones. A struggling writer himself, Jack reacts jealously to Nelle’s success and presses Truman to come home, but Truman decides to stay. Truman and Nelle, who are relying on their extensive powers of recall rather than notes or tape recorders, continue to interview locals and gather information about the murders. One evening, while Truman and Nelle enjoy Christmas dinner with the Dewey family, Dewey learns that the two killers, who recently evaded his men in Kansas City, have been captured in Las Vegas. On 6 January 1960, Dewey arrives in Garden City with the two suspects, Perry Edward Smith and Richard Eugene Hickock, and soon after, Truman charms his way in to see Perry, who is being held in a cell inside the sheriff’s private residence to keep him separate from Dick. Perry is initially hostile but, curious about Truman’s friendliness and celebrity, answers Truman’s questions about the questionable strategy of his and Dick’s lawyer. Truman then informs Shawn that he will have enough material for a book rather than just an article, adding he especially has been struck by Perry’s loneliness and desire for education and approval. Summoned by Truman, fashion photographer Richard Avedon comes to Kansas to photograph Dick and Perry, and the news that Truman is writing about the case begins to spread. At the conclusion of their trial, Perry and Dick are found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder and are sentenced to be hanged. Truman is torn between his desire to help Perry, with whom he has become close, and to work on his book, but before returning home, promises that he will get Perry a good lawyer for an appeal. In New York, Jack and Nelle watch, bemused, as Truman regales partygoers with stories about provincial Kansas. Truman informs his friends that the book is the one he was “always meant to write,” and that its purpose will be to return the vilified Perry “to the realm of humanity.” At an interview soon after, Truman tells the reporter that his book will explore the two worlds that co-exist in America—one conservative and quiet, the other violent and explosive—and what happens when they collide. Truman further explains that the experience of researching the book over the past three months has changed his life completely, and that he intends to create a new genre, “the nonfiction novel,” which will use novelistic techniques to tell a true story. With Perry’s and Dick’s executions only six weeks away, Truman realizes that he needs to rush to get their stories, and returns to Kansas. At the federal penitentiary, after bribing the warden to give him unlimited access to the prisoners, Truman learns that Perry has been on a hunger strike. Deeply affected by Perry’s weakened state, Truman nurses him back to health and reveals that, like Perry, he had a very painful childhood. When Perry recovers, Truman states that he needs to understand him completely for his book, or else the world will always see him as a monster. After Perry gives Truman his diaries, Truman tells Nelle that Perry is a “gold mine,” and that when he thinks of how good his book can be, it takes his breath away. Later, Truman lunches with Dewey, who gives him his investigation notes despite his fury that the lawyer Truman secured for Perry and Dick has obtained a stay of execution and a hearing before the Kansas Supreme Court. When Perry thanks Truman, however, and naïvely hopes that Truman’s book will bolster their defense, Truman lies, telling him that he has not yet written a word nor thought of a title, even though he has decided to call it In Cold Blood . Truman presses Perry to discuss the murders but when Perry demurs, and Jack departs for a holiday in Spain, Truman leaves Kansas to join Jack. After a year of intense work, Truman finishes the first half of In Cold Blood , but tells Shawn that he cannot complete the next part until Perry describes the murders, nor can he write the ending until Perry’s and Dick’s fates have been decided. When Shawn informs him that Kansas has denied the killers’ appeal and that he must talk with Perry immediately, as he will be dead by the fall, Truman is stunned into silence. During a visit from Nelle, Truman admits to her Jack’s belief that Truman is using Perry even though he has fallen in love with him. Denying that he loves Perry, Truman asserts that they are so similar, it is if they grew up in the same house, and that one day, Perry walked out the back door while he walked out the front. Truman then travels to Kansas and again lies to Perry, telling him that he has hardly written anything on the book. Soon after, however, Truman gives a reading of the first half of In Cold Blood in New York and is gratified by the thunderous applause. Shawn urges him to complete the book, assuring him that it will have a huge impact on both his reputation and how nonfiction is written. Truman is ambivalent about Perry’s upcoming execution, as he will miss Perry, but Shawn replies that at least he will have his ending. Perry and Dick receive another stay of execution, however, when their appeal is scheduled to be heard in federal court. Frustrated, Truman lashes out at Perry, telling him that the only reason he has been coming to visit him for the past three years is to hear his description of the murders. Storming out, Truman goes to Washington to interview Perry’s sister, who warns him that Perry is a dangerous con man who may be manipulating him. When Truman returns, Perry confronts him with a newspaper account of the reading in New York, but the prevaricating Truman is able to charm him into finally describing how he killed the Clutters. Before returning to New York, Truman completes the third part of his book, detailing the murders. On the phone with a friend, Truman complains that he has spent four years of his life on the project and wants to be done with it, but Dick and Perry have received yet another stay of execution because their case has been sent to the Supreme Court. Perry pleads with Truman via telegram to find them another attorney for their appeal to the Supreme Court but Truman, exhausted and conflicted, does not even try. Soon after, at a party celebrating the premiere of the movie To Kill a Mockingbird , a drunken Truman tells Nelle that he is being “tortured” by Dick and Perry’s legal postponements. Nonetheless, Truman is shaken upon learning from Perry that the Supreme Court has rejected their appeal, and that they are due to be executed in two weeks. On 14 April 1965, almost six years after the murders, Dick and Perry are awaiting execution, while in his hotel room, Truman is almost catatonic and refuses to go to the prison, despite repeated pleas from Perry. Finally Nelle calls and reads to Truman a telegram from Perry forgiving him and expressing gratitude for their friendship. Truman gathers the courage to go to the prison, but arrives so late that he can spend only a few minutes with the condemned men. Fighting back tears, Truman assures them that he did all he could for them, and Perry comforts him. Perry asks Truman to be present when he and Dick are hanged, and so Truman joins Dewey and the other witnesses at the gallows. After Truman watches in horror as Perry, whose last words are an apology to the Clutter family, is hanged, he calls Nelle. Although Truman tells her that it was a terrible experience and that he will never recover, the unsympathetic Nelle tells him that he is alive, while Dick and Perry are not. When Truman protests that he could do nothing to save them, Nelle retorts that he did not want to. On the airplane back to New York, with the ending of his book now finalized, Truman thumbs through Perry’s last diary and stares with melancholy at a portrait of himself, drawn by Perry. +

Legend
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Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.