Truman Capote’s seminal In Cold Blood is the one of the bestselling true crime novels in history (second only to Vincent Bugliosi's 1974 book Helter Skelter). Published in 1966, the book recounts the shocking murders of four members of the Herbert Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, in 1959. After learning of the murders, Capote traveled to Kansas with friend and fellow writer Harper Lee to conduct a series of interviews and research the facts of the case.
The killers, Richard “Dick” Hickock and Perry Smith, were arrested in Vegas six weeks after the crime and brought back to Kansas to be put on trial. They claim a former cellmate of Hickock’s—who happened to have been a farmhand for Mr. Clutter—had tipped them off that there was a safe on the property that held a ton of cash. After Hickock enlisted Smith to join him, the plan was to break in, steal the safe, leave no witnesses, and venture to Mexico to start anew. However, after discovering the tip to be erroneous, Hickock and Smith bound and gagged the family and executed them one after another with a shotgun blast to the head from close range.
Capote’s In Cold Blood is heralded as the first nonfiction novel, a springboard for the true crime genre. Though the work has drawn its fair share of criticism for Capote’s supposed dramatization and embellishment of certain facts and dialogue, its influence and importance can still be felt over 50 years later. In Cold Blood has been adapted into several different formats—including Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Oscar-winning turn as the author himself as he researched the Clutter murder in the film Capote—but now, for the first time ever, the case will be examined as a true crime documentary.
SundanceTV has partnered with Emmy-winning producer and director Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost) to bring you Cold Blooded, a two-part documentary detailing the murder case that Capote made famous. The documentary will “recount the Clutter murders in detail, using previously unpublished documents, in addition to first-hand accounts from the Clutters' living relatives” to provide new insight into this groundbreaking case.
Part One premieres on SundanceTV on Saturday, November 18, at 9 p.m. ET.
Watch the official trailer below: