sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

......True crime, yesterday and today....

Interesting (unposted) article on Truman Capote by James Wolcott in this month's Vanity Fair.

Wolcott discusses Capote in the context of two new movies, Capote (with Philip Seymour Hoffman in the title role) and Have You Heard? (with British newcomer Toby Jones supported by the likes of Sandra Bullock, Gwyneth Paltrow and Isabella Rossellini).

Wolcott asks:

"Why now? What magnetic force is being exerted to make the saga of In Cold Blood worthy of double exposure? One obvious answer: the lasting theatrical aura of Capote's flamboyant persona, a flamboyance twirled like a toredor's cape to ward off the pain and ridicule of growing up cast off and queer, his wee physique and singsong, almost falsetto drawl setting him forever apart.

It's also the 40th anniversary of the publication of "In Cold Blood," which struck a considerable nerve with readers during a time of social unrest. If the Clutters could buy the farm in an act of random violence, then anybody could.

"In Cold Blood" also broke considerable literary and pop culture ground. Without Capote, there might not be the likes of Joe McGinniss, Jerry Bledsoe, maybe not even a revitalized Norman Mailer, who went on to write "The Executioner's Song." CSI and its various spin-offs might not be ruling the tube today without "In Cold Blood."

But while forensic evidence (Perry Smith's bloody bootprint, the discarded shotgun shells) played a major role in the investigation of the Clutter murders, the climax of "In Cold Blood" is Smith's graphic account of the murders, revealed after Capote had formed what Wolcott describes as a "homerotic bond" with him.

But McGinniss did not have that luxury in Fatal Vision, because Jeffrey MacDonald pleaded not guilty of the murders of his wife and children.

The breakthrough in the case — and the highlight of McGinniss' book — is forensic evidence uncovered by investigators. MacDonald and his family members each had a different blood type, allowing investigators to track movement in the house based on where blood spots were found.

Interesting stuff.....At least to me.


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