Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

In Cold Blood (1967)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

In Cold Blood (1967)

In Richard Brooks' adaptation of Truman Capote's best-selling non-fiction novel about two ex-con, paroled drifters and an "in cold blood" set of murders:

  • the two main criminal protagonists: charming Richard "Dick" Hickock (Scott Wilson) and violence-prone, unstable, and quiet Perry Smith (Robert Blake)
  • the brutal mass murder crime (delayed in the film and shown mostly as a post-crime scene flashback) against the four-member Herbert Clutter family in rural Holcomb, Kansas (November 15, 1959) in the western part of the state, conducted by the two drifters who were looking for $10,000, and ended up with only $40
  • in flashback, during the robbery-murder when speaking to the young Clutter teenaged daughter Nancy (Brenda Currin) and searching for her silver dollar that he had dropped on the floor, the expression of Perry's doubts to Dick that they were "ridiculous" - ("And all to steal a kid's silver dollar. Ridiculous! This is stupid!")
  • and just before committing the murders, Perry's self-reflections about his own traumatic and abusive childhood, including a frightening vision of his mean father pulling a shotgun on him and threatening: ("Look at me, boy. Take a good look. I'm the last living thing you're ever going to see"); after the killings, Perry calmly admitted: ("It had nothing to do with the Clutters. They never hurt me, they just happened to be there. I thought Mr. Clutter was a very nice gentleman. I thought so right up until the time l cut his throat.")
  • the scene - after the crime - of con artist "Dick" in a Kansas City men's clothing store, claiming he was the "best man" and offering to purchase a "trousseau" for his about-to-be-married friend Perry; when being fitted by a tailor for the suit, Dick claimed his friend obtained leg scars fighting in Korea (and received the Bronze Star), although they were from a motorcycle accident; Dick was purchasing everything for $192.70 - but then claimed he would have to return later, since he only had $4.00; he convinced the gullible clerk to accept a personal check (a hot check) and cash-back
  • the sequence in a decrepit Mexican hotel, where a delusional and excited Perry urged Dick that they should seek Cortes' buried treasure in the Yucatan: ("I met this kid. He's a shoeshine boy. Well, he's got a cousin in Yucatan, a fisherman. And he's got a powerboat...So, we drive to Yucatan, we sell the car, buy us a load of deep-sea diving gear and 'pow,' we hit the Cortés jackpot. $60 million dollars in Spanish gold. Of course, we'll have to cut the kid in, and his cousin, too. But even so, Yucatan! Hot, dry, clean, no crowd, no noise. Doin' what we came to do"); Dick was unconvinced and angry, and wished to return to the US: ("You listen! l've had it! You, your maps, fishing boats, buried treasures, all of it! Everything! Stop jacking off. There ain't any caskets of gold. No buried treasure. And even if there was, hell, boy, you can't even swim!")
  • the scene of the two killers hitch-hiking in the California desert, when Dick suggested their next plotted move to score - that they garrotte a driver from the back seat with a belt and steal the car: ("We want a score. One guy with a fat wallet, in a fast car, with a back seat. I sit beside him. You get in the back, l feed him a few jokes. I say, 'Hey, Perry, pass me a match.' That's your signal. Fast. Hard. Snap. I grab the wheel"); Perry disagreed: ("You're so good at it, you sit in the back seat. You do it.")
  • the trial scene, when the Prosecutor (Will Geer) effectively argued to the jury about the necessity for capital punishment, because life imprisonment would mean possible parole in only 7 years; he also quoted from The Ten Commandments "Thou Shalt Not Kill": ("If you allow them life imprisonment, they will be eligible for parole in seven years. That is the law. Gentlemen, four of your neighbors were slaughtered like hogs in a pen by them. They did not strike suddenly in the heat of passion, but for money. They did not kill in vengeance. They planned it for money. And how cheaply those lives were bought: $40 dollars, $10 dollars a life...They who had no pity, now ask for yours. They who had no mercy, now ask for yours. They who had no tears, now ask for yours. If you have tears to shed, weep not for them, weep for their victims. From the way the Holy Bible was quoted here today, you might think the word of God was written only to protect the killers. But they didn't read you this: Exodus 20, verse 13: 'Thou shalt not kill.' Or this, Genesis 9, verse 12: 'Who so shedeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.'")
  • the killers' long wait of five years on death row in the Kansas State Penitentiary
  • the image of Perry Smith's face next to a rain-streaked cell window (that appeared to streak his own face with rain drops, a replay of a similar Katharine Hepburn scene in Alice Adams (1935))
  • the convicted murderer's final moments on the night he was scheduled to be hanged, when he delivered a final monologue; he recounted to the Chaplain a pivotal and traumatic time in his life - his relationship with his father, when they were prospecting together in Alaska; everything failed miserably and they were starving - and Perry's father blamed him and pulled a gun on him - a repetition of the memory during the Clutter killings: ("I'm the last living thing you're ever going to see") - but the gun wasn't loaded; at that point in his life, Perry admitted he left home for good without emotion: ("I walked away and never looked back. I guess the only thing l'm gonna miss in this world is that poor old man and his hopeless dreams"), and that he still hated AND loved his father: ("I hate him. And l love him")
'Last Words' Monologue Before Execution
  • the execution by hanging scene (April 14, 1965) of both convicted killers - Dick first, and then Perry, who yearned to apologize for the murders and spoke a few words: ("I think maybe l'd like to apologize. But who to?"); then, he was marched up the stairs to the gallows, as a priest intoned a reading of Psalm 23 - after he imagined the hangman to be his father, he spoke his last words: ("Is God in this place, too?"); a black bag covered his head and he was put to death

Perry: Silver Dollar Scene with Teenaged Clutter Daughter

Perry's Flashback of Father Pulling a Shotgun on Him

"Dick" in Men's Clothing Store

Arguing About Buried Treasure in Yucatan

Dick's Descriptive Plan to Garrotte Driver

Trial - Prosecutor Speaking to Jury and Courtroom

Perry Next to Rain-Streaked Cell Window


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