IN COLD BLOOD
1967, Sony Repertory, 134 min, USA, Dir: Richard Brooks

This starkly masterful adaptation of Truman Capote’s true-crime classic emerges as one of the finest films by director Richard Brooks (THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE, THE PROFESSIONALS). Robert Blake and Scott Wilson etch startlingly vivid portrayals of killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, two small-time thieves whose bungled home invasion robbery evolved into a slaughter of the helpless Clutter family. Charles McGraw and Jeff Corey are likewise superb as Smith’s and Hickock’s fathers. With John Forsythe as doggedly methodical head investigator Alvin Dewey. Nominated for four Oscars, including Best Director and Screenplay (Brooks), Best Cinematography (Conrad Hall) and Best Music (Quincy Jones).


SLAUGHTER ON TENTH AVENUE
1956, Universal, 103 min, USA, Dir: Arnold Laven

This stepson to ON THE WATERFRONT packs a wallop of its own. An upstart district attorney (Richard Egan) tries to crack the New York waterfront’s mob-enforced code of silence and mete out justice for a murdered whistleblower. Jan Sterling is terrific as the victim’s widow, heading a dynamite supporting cast of familiar and fantastic character actors, including Dan Duryea, Charles McGraw, Sam Levene and Walter Matthau. Lawrence Roman’s fact-based script is vigorously directed by Arnold Laven. NOT ON DVD


REIGN OF TERROR
(aka THE BLACK BOOK)
1949, Sony Repertory, 88 min, USA, Dir: Anthony Mann

Director Anthony Mann and DP John Alton, using the full-bore noir treatment, turn the French Revolution into a crime saga dripping with greed, deceit and betrayal. With Robert Cummings as Charles D’Aubigny and Richard Basehart as Robespierre, all of the elements are here - atmospheric camerawork, taut script, a beautiful spy (Arlene Dahl, again!) and fearsome Charles McGraw (looking like the leader of a French biker gang) as Robespierre’s sadistic henchman.


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