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Texas: With a man's execution days away, his victims react with fury or forgiveness

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For the past 3 months, Christopher Anthony Young has awoken in his 10-by-6 foot concrete cell on death row and had to remind himself: He's scheduled to die soon.
As the day crept closer, the thought became more constant for Young, who's sentenced to die for killing Hasmukh "Hash" Patel in 2004.
"What will it feel like to lay on the gurney?" he asks himself. "To feel the needle pierce my vein?"
Mitesh Patel, who was 22 when Young murdered his father, has anxiously anticipated those moments, as well. He wonders how he will feel when he files into the room adjacent to the death chamber and sees Young just feet away through a glass wall.
For years, Patel felt a deep hatred for Young. He wanted to see him die. Patel knew it wouldn't bring his father back. But it was part of the process that started 14 years ago when Young, then 21, gunned down Hash Patel during a robbery at Patel's convenience store on the Southeast Side of San Antonio.
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➤ Thou Shalt Not Kill


Screenshot from Thou Shalt Not Kill
1988. Poland. Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski. Writers: Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz. Stars: Miroslaw Baka, Krzysztof Globisz, Jan Tesarz. Running time: 1h24

Synopsis: The film begins with Piotr Balicki (Krzysztof Globisz), a young and idealistic lawyer who is about to take the bar exam. Jacek Łazar (Miroslaw Baka) is a 20-year-old man, coming from the countryside. He wanders the streets of Warsaw and has apparently nothing to do. He keeps asking about a taxi stand but the first one he finds is very busy.

Jacek plays malicious, pointless, and ruthless jokes on people like throwing a stranger into the urinals in a public toilet, dropping stones from a bridge onto passing vehicles, or shooing pigeons which an old woman wants to feed. Jacek keeps a length of rope in his bag and a stick; he wraps a bit of rope around his hand but stops when he spots two girls playing at the other side of the window at the cafe and he engages in a game with them. He then goes to a taxi stop and jumps into a taxi, mendaciously declining to cede his taxi to other people who seem much busier. Jacek asks to be driven to a part of the city near the countryside. There, Jacek kills the driver using the rope, in a brutal and extended scene in which he has to finish his killing using a big stone as the victim begs for mercy. He then takes the taxi to the river and dumps the body. Jacek starts eating a sandwich made by taxi driver's wife.

Jacek is arrested, convicted of robbery and murder. Jacek's lawyer is Piotr, in his first case after finishing law school. Piotr, who earlier argued the immorality of the death penalty, is distressed at having failed to save his client from a death sentence, and enters the judge's chambers to ask if a more experienced or articulate lawyer might have succeeded. (Source: Wikipedia)

[Probably the most intellectually challenging, thought provoking, but also the most haunting film I have ever seen about capital punishment. - DPN Editor]




➤ Rectify


Screenshot from Rectify
2013-216. USA. American television series. Creator: Ray McKinnon. Stars: Aden Young, Abigail Spencer, J. Smith-Cameron. 4 seasons.

Synopsis: Sundance Channel's first wholly owned scripted series stars Aden Young as Daniel Holden, who spends nearly 20 years on death row for the rape and murder of a teenage girl, before new DNA evidence nullifies his conviction. He returns home, but he's far from welcomed.

He's an outsider now in a town that remains divided by his alleged crime, and contributing to his uncertain future is the man who prosecuted him -- riding that notoriety to become a state senator -- and who is plotting to reopen the case.

As he struggles to adapt, Daniel is comforted by support from his younger sister, Amantha, who has always believed in his innocence and has worked her entire adult life to secure his release. Not so for Ted Jr., Daniel's stepbrother with whom he has no relationship. Insecure and manipulative, Ted is skeptical of Daniel's motives and innocence... (Sources: Google, IMDb)




➤ Dead Man Walking


Screenshot from Dead Man Walking
1995. USA. Director: Tim Robbins. Writers: Helen Prejean (book) (as Sister Helen Prejean C.S.J.), Tim Robbins. Stars: Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Robert Prosky. Running time: 2h20

Synopsis: Matthew Poncelet has been in prison for six years, awaiting his execution after being sentenced to death for killing a teenage couple. Poncelet, held in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, committed the crimes with a man named Carl Vitello, who was sentenced to life imprisonment.

As the day of his execution comes closer, Poncelet asks Sister Helen, with whom he has corresponded, to help him with a final appeal.

She decides to visit him. He is arrogant, sexist, and racist, not even pretending to feel any kind of remorse. He affirms his innocence, insisting Vitello killed the two teenagers.

Convincing an experienced attorney to take on Poncelet's case pro bono, Sister Helen tries to have his sentence commuted to life imprisonment. After many visits, she establishes a special relationship with him.

At the same time, she gets to know Poncelet’s mother, Lucille, and the families of the two victims. The families do not understand Sister Helen's efforts to help Poncelet, claiming she is "taking his side." Instead they desire "absolute justice"—his life for the lives of their children.

Sister Helen’s application for a pardon is declined. Poncelet asks Sister Helen to be his spiritual adviser through the day of execution, and she agrees...  (Source: Wikipedia)




➤ Apprentice


Screenshot from Apprentice
2016. Singapore. Director: Junfeng Boo. Writers: Junfeng Boo (story), Junfeng Boo, Raymond Phathanavirangoon (Story). Stars: Firdaus Rahman, Wan Hanafi Su, Mastura Ahmad. Running time: 1h55

Synopsis: Prisons officer Sergeant Aiman has just been transferred to the fictional Larangan Prison, the state's maximum security prison. Due to his vocational education background, he is assigned to watch the rehabilitating prisoners at the prison's workshop.

Later on, while helping a colleague, Sergeant Joseph, to clear some stores at the prison gallows, he encounters the Chief Executioner, Senior Chief Warder Rahim. Aiman volunteers to help Rahim find suitable rope for the gallows, and the two men soon strike up a friendship.

At work, Joseph reveals to Aiman that he has stepped down as Rahim's assistant because, when tasked with carrying out an execution, he could not bring himself to pull the lever. Aiman agrees to become Rahim's new apprentice. Rahim teaches Aiman the tricks of the trade and shares his knowledge and experience with him, and their mentor-mentee bond grows stronger.

Aiman finally receives first-hand experience with an execution. He ushers death-row inmate Randy to the gallows, where Rahim offers Randy words of consolation before performing the execution.  (Source: Wikipedia)




➤ Sophie Scholl: The Final Days


Screenshot from "Sophie Scholl, the final days"
2005. Germany. Director: Marc Rothemund. Writer: Fred Breinersdorfer. Stars: Julia Jentsch, Fabian Hinrichs, Alexander Held. Running time: 2h

Synopsis.  The film is about the last days in the life of Sophie Scholl, a 21-year-old member of the anti-Nazi non-violent student resistance group the White Rose, part of the German Resistance movement. She was found guilty of high treason by the People’s Court and executed the same day, 22 February 1943.

In wartime Munich, Sophie Scholl joins members of the White Rose student organization, including Sophie's brother Hans, who are preparing copies of their sixth leaflet. They have mimeographed more than they can distribute through the mail. Hans proposes distributing the extras at university the next day; despite Willi arguing that the risks are unacceptable, Hans says that he will take full responsibility, and Sophie volunteers to assist.

The next day, Sophie carries a small suitcase as she and Hans walk to the main building of Munich University. In the building, where classes are in session, they set about putting down stacks of leaflets near the doors of lecture rooms. With only minutes left until the period ends, Sophie runs to the top floor, where she sets a stack of leaflets on the balustrade, then impulsively pushes them over the edge. As Hans and Sophie try to leave, a janitor who saw Sophie scatter the leaflets shouts at them to stop, and detains them until police arrive and arrest them.

The siblings are taken to the Munich Stadelheim Prison, where Sophie is interrogated by Gestapo investigator Robert Mohr. Claiming initially to be apolitical, she presents an elaborate alibi: she and her brother had nothing to do with the fliers; she noticed them in the hall and pushed a stack off the railing because it is in her nature to play pranks; and she had an empty suitcase because she was going to visit her parents in Ulm and planned to bring back some clothes. Her deception seems to be working; she is dismissed. As her release form is about to be approved, though, the order comes to not let her go. She is placed in a prison cell with fellow prisoner Else Gebel.

The investigation has found incontrovertible evidence that Sophie and Hans were indeed responsible for the distribution of anti-Nazi leaflets. Sophie concedes her involvement (as has Hans) but, determined to protect the others, steadfastly maintains that the production and distribution of thousands of copies of leaflets in cities throughout the region were entirely the work of Hans and herself.

Sophie, her brother and a married friend with three young children, Christoph Probst, are charged with treason, troop demoralization and abetting the enemy. In the subsequent show trial, the President of the People's Court Roland Freisler pronounces the three defendants guilty and calls on each to make a brief final statement. Sophie tells the court that “where we stand today, you [Freisler] will stand soon.” All are sentenced to death... (Source: Wikipedia)




➤ Casque d'Or


Screenshot from Casque d'Or
1952. France. Director: Jacques Becker. Writers: Jacques Becker (scenario), Jacques Companéez (scenario). Stars: Simone Signoret, Serge Reggiani, Claude Dauphin. Running time: 1h34

Synopsis: Marie "Casque d'Or" (Golden Helmet), a woman of considerable beauty, is distressed at her treatment by Roland, a criminal who is a part of a local syndicate. When Marie is introduced to the handsome stranger Georges, a humble carpenter, she instantly falls in love with him, much to the chagrin of Roland. When Roland's jealousy builds after a number of meetings between Marie and Georges, Roland decides to confront Georges behind a club where several members of his syndicate watch. After Georges gains control of a knife that had been thrown between them to initiate the fight, Georges manages to stab Roland in the back after a brief scuffle, killing him almost instantly. When the police arrive at the scene, everyone flees, including Marie, who seeks refuge away from the syndicate at a nearby village.

Georges decides it is best to flee town. He is lured to a rendezvous with Marie by a note she sends. The two live an idyllic life in the nearby village until Georges is brought word that a friend, Raymond, had been arrested for the murder of Roland. Félix, the leader of the syndicate, has placed blame on Raymond in an attempt to bring Georges out of hiding and win control of Marie. Not realising this plan, Georges confesses to the police that he is the real killer. While being transported between jails, he breaks free with the help of a diversion by Marie. Georges immediately seeks Félix to get revenge. When he finds him in the presence of the police, he kills him anyway, condemning himself in the process. With the two murders on his hands, Georges is sentenced to death... (Source: Wikipedia)





➤ Into the Abyss


Screenshot from Into The Abyss
2011. USA. Documentary. Director: Werner Herzog. With Werner Herzog, Richard Lopez, Michael Perry. Running time: 1h47 min.

Synopsis: Filmmaker Werner Herzog explores capital punishment through interviews with convicted killers, their victims' families, and members of the Texas criminal justice system.

This documentary was made 8 days before Michael Perry, a man on death row convicted of murdering Sandra Stotler, a fifty-year-old nurse, was to be executed.

The film profiles Michael Perry, a man on death row for the murder of Sandra Stotler, who also confessed to two other murders which occurred in Conroe, Texas.

Perry was convicted of the October 2001 murder eight years before filming; the crimes were apparently committed in order to steal a car for a joyride. Perry denies that he was responsible for the killings.

Perry's final interviews for the film were recorded only eight days before his execution on July 1, 2010. The film also includes interviews with victims' families and law enforcement officers.

The film does not focus on Perry's guilt or innocence and features a minimal amount of narration, with Herzog never appearing onscreen, unlike in many of his films. (Sources: IMDb, Wikipedia)




➤ The Life of David Gale


Screenshot from The Life of David Gale
2003. USA. Director: Alan Parker. Writer: Charles Randolph. Stars: Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet, Laura Linney. Running time: 2h10 min.

Synopsis: David Gale is a professor who is a prisoner on death row in Texas. With only a few days until his execution, his lawyer negotiates a half-million dollar fee to tell his story to Bitsey Bloom, a journalist from a major news magazine. She is known for her ability to keep secrets and protect her sources. He tells her the story of how he ended up on death row, revealed to the audience through a series of lengthy flashbacks.

Gale is head of the philosophy department at the University of Austin and an active member of DeathWatch, an advocacy group campaigning against capital punishment.

Constance Harraway, a fellow DeathWatch activist, is a close friend of Gale who consoles him after his life falls apart, and the pair have sex. However, the next day, Harraway is discovered raped and murdered, suffocated by a plastic bag taped over her head.

An autopsy reveals that she had been forced to swallow the key to the handcuffs used to restrain her, a psychological torture technique used by the Securitate under the communist regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu, which Gale and Harraway had both protested against.

The physical evidence at the crime scene points to Gale, who is convicted of rape and murder and is sentenced to death... (Source: IMDb)





➤ Deux hommes dans la ville (Two Men in Town)


Deux hommes dans la ville
1973. France. Director: José Giovanni. Writers: José Giovanni (original story), José Giovanni (dialogue). Stars: Alain Delon, Jean Gabin, Mimsy Farmer. Running Time: 1h40min.

Synopsis. Germain Cazeneuve left the police to work as a prison trainer, teaching inmates how to live once out of jail and how to stay out. He stands guarantor when Gino Strabliggi, a printer by trade, is paroled two years before his twelve year sentence for bank robbery expires.

Germain and his family offer friendship to Gino and his wife Sophie, who has waited faithfully for ten years, until two men racing along a country road kill Sophie by accident. Gino gets a steady job as a printer and meets Lucy, a bank employee, who moves into his flat.

On a regular visit to the police station to renew his parole, he is seen by Inspector Goitreau who originally arrested him and immediately follows him. As he stops for petrol, some old associates spot him and give him the address of their hideout. Goitreau, suspecting Gino is part of their plans, arrests him and gets the address, but Germain gets him freed.

Thwarted, Goitreau starts harassing Gino, questioning his boss at the printers and his girl friend at the bank. When the gang pull off a raid, Goitreau knows where they will meet up and arrests them all. He is sure Gino was part of the operation... (Source: Wikipedia)






➤ Fourteen Days in May


Fourteen Days in May
1988. USA. Documentary. Director: Paul Hamann. Writers: Paul Hamann, Harold Manning (French adaptation). With: Clive Stafford Smith, Edward Earl Johnson. Running time: 2h20 min.

Synopsis: Fourteen Days in May is a documentary film directed by Paul Hamann and originally shown on television by the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1987.

The programme recounts the final days before the execution of Edward Earl Johnson, an American prisoner convicted of rape and murder and imprisoned in the Mississippi State Penitentiary.

Johnson protested his innocence and claimed that his confession had been made under duress. He was executed in Mississippi's gas chamber on 20 May 1987.

The documentary crew, given access to the prison warden, guards and chaplain and to Johnson and his family, filmed the last days of Johnson's life in detail. The documentary argues against the death penalty and maintains that capital punishment is disproportionately applied to African-Americans convicted of crimes against whites. The programme features attorney Clive Stafford Smith, an advocate against capital punishment.

Fourteen Days in May won a British Film Institute Grierson Award and a top prize at the Festival dei Populi. It has been shown in many countries but has only appeared in an abbreviated form in the United States, on HBO. Hamann disowned this shortened version.

It was in direct response to this documentary that the Lifelines organisation was set up, to organise pen pals for death row prisoners. (Source: IMDb)






Ronald Ryan - The Last Man Hanged in Australia


Ronald Ryan (center)
1992. Australia. Documentary. Director: Lewis Fitz-Gerald. Writer: Lewis Fitz-Gerald. With: Colin Friels, Lewis Fitz-Gerald, Angie Milliken. Running time: 1h00.

Synopsis: Ronald Joseph Ryan, age 41, was the last man hanged in Australia. It was 8:00 AM on Friday February 3, 1967 at Pentridge Prison in Melbourne.

Five decades later, serious doubts still remain whether Ronald Ryan was guilty of murder beyond all reasonable doubt.

Despite a total lack of scientific evidence, missing pieces of vital evidence that would have cleared Ryan, serious ambiguities in the capital case, widespread inconsistencies of all fourteen prosecution eyewitnesses evidence, testimony from a prison officer that he fired the one and only single shot heard by hundreds, odd angle of the fatal shot, unrecorded and unsigned verbal confessions to the police, Ryan was found guilty of the shooting death of prison officer George Hodson during a botched escape from Pentridge Prison in Melbourne.

Later, seven of the 12 male jurors changed their mind and campaigned against Ryan’s hanging. Ryan was a small-time criminal with no history of violence who always maintained that he did not fire a shot at all. The Victorian Premier Henry Bolte was the key figure in his hanging. Since 1951, the Victorian government had commuted every death sentence to life in prison. Premier Bolte, facing an upcoming State election was determined Ryan would hang. He wanted to be seen to take the ‘tough on crime’ stance. (Source: Ronald Ryan - Hanged Innocent in Australia)






➤ At the Death House Door


At the Death House Door
2008. USA. Documentary. Directors: Peter Gilbert, Steve James. With: Carroll Pickett, Steve Mills, Maurice Possley.

SynopsisAt the Death House Door is a 2008 documentary film about Carroll Pickett, who served as the death house chaplain to the infamous "Walls" prison unit in Huntsville, Texas.

Pickett presided over 95 executions in his 15-year career, including the very first by lethal injection. He kept his feelings about his work from his family, instead audiotaping an account of each one. Initially pro-execution, he became an anti-death penalty activist.

Pickett was most affected by the execution of Carlos DeLuna in 1989. He firmly believed in De Luna's innocence. In 2006, Chicago Tribune reporters Maurice Possley and Steve Mills published a detailed investigation suggesting that another man had committed the crime for which De Luna was executed, and the film recounts the evidence brought forth in that investigation.

At the Death House Door had its World Premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. The focus is on the death penalty in the Lone Star state at the Death Chamber in Huntsville.

The film is a powerful indictment of the Texas death penalty. It presents an intensely human narrative about capital punishment, mostly through the eyes of Reverend Caroll Pickett. Pickett is clearly haunted by what he has witnessed on death row and has become a fierce opponent of the death penalty.

At the Death House Door is a compelling, emotional documentary that presents a strong moral and human case against the death penalty. One is certainly left to wonder if Carlos DeLuna was wrongly executed and how many others like him are still incarcerated. (Source IMDB)







➤ Return to Paradise


Return to paradise Poster
1998. USA. Directed by Joseph Ruben, written by Wesley Strick and Bruce Robinson, and starring Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, and Joaquin Phoenix. Return to Paradise is a remake of the 1989 French film Force majeure.

Synopsis: Three friends, Lewis McBride, Sheriff and Tony, are seen having a fun vacation in a Malaysian paradise. Their adventures include being almost run over by a car while riding a bicycle, and being pressured into buying some rhinoceros horn from Malaysian locals. They also purchase a large bag of hash from a drug dealer. The three men wind up at their beach front house on the ocean pondering their future in the island paradise.

Tony and Sheriff decide to return to New York, while Lewis, being a "greeny", wishes to travel to Borneo to save endangered orangutans. On the last day, they toss the remaining hash in the garbage. As time passes in New York, Sheriff is working as a limo driver and Tony as an architect.

A young lawyer named Beth informs them that their friend Lewis has spent the last two years in Penang prison in Malaysia, because of hash found at their Malaysian house. She reveals that he will receive the death sentence unless one or both of the men return to share responsibility. Beth assures both of them that they will not suffer in prison, be tortured, or harmed in any way. After a gruelling eight days, during which they must make a decision, both men decide to return to Malaysia. Upon their arrival, all seems well until they visit the prison to see Lewis.

Lewis appears to have suffered psychological damage from the harsh imprisonment, although it is reported that he has not been tortured or starved as is the case with other prisoners... (Wikipedia)







➤ Sacco and Vanzetti


Sacco and Vanzetti, film poster
1971. Italy. Directed by Giuliano Montaldo. Written by Vicente Aranda, Fabrizio Onofri, Giuliano Montaldo, Mino Roli, Ottavio Jemma. Starring Gian Maria Volontè, Riccardo Cucciolla, Cyril Cusack, Rosanna Fratello, Geoffrey Keen, Milo O'Shea. Music by Ennio Morricone. Song lyrics by American folk singer Joan Baez. Running time: 121 min.

Synopsis: Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were Italian-born American anarchists who were controversially convicted of murdering a guard and a paymaster during the April 15, 1920, armed robbery of the Slater and Morrill Shoe Company in Braintree, Massachusetts, United States. Seven years later, they were electrocuted in the electric chair at Charlestown State Prison. Both men adhered to an anarchist movement that advocated relentless warfare against a violent and oppressive government.

After a few hours' deliberation on July 14, 1921, the jury convicted Sacco and Vanzetti of first-degree murder and they were sentenced to death by the trial judge. A series of appeals followed, funded largely by the private Sacco and Vanzetti Defense Committee. The appeals were based on recanted testimony, conflicting ballistics evidence, a prejudicial pre-trial statement by the jury foreman, and a confession by an alleged participant in the robbery. All appeals were denied by trial judge Webster Thayer and also later denied by the Massachusetts State Supreme Court. By 1926, the case had drawn worldwide attention. As details of the trial and the men's suspected innocence became known, Sacco and Vanzetti became the center of one of the largest causes célèbres in modern history. In 1927, protests on their behalf were held in every major city in North America and Europe, as well as in Tokyo, Sydney, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, and Auckland.

Celebrated writers, artists, and academics pleaded for their pardon or for a new trial. Harvard law professor and future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter argued for their innocence in a widely read Atlantic Monthly article that was later published in book form. Sacco and Vanzetti were scheduled to die in April 1927, accelerating the outcry. Responding to a massive influx of telegrams urging their pardon, Massachusetts governor Alvan T. Fuller appointed a three-man commission to investigate the case. After weeks of secret deliberation that included interviews with the judge, lawyers, and several witnesses, the commission upheld the verdict. Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in the electric chair just after midnight on August 23, 1927. Subsequent riots destroyed property in Paris, London, and other cities.

Investigations in the aftermath of the executions continued throughout the 1930s and 1940s. The publication of the men's letters, containing eloquent professions of innocence, intensified belief in their wrongful execution. Additional ballistics tests and incriminating statements by the men's acquaintances have clouded the case. On August 23, 1977—the 50th anniversary of the executions—Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation that Sacco and Vanzetti had been unfairly tried and convicted and that "any disgrace should be forever removed from their names". (Source: Wikipedia)






➤ King and Country


King and Country
1964. UK. Directed by Joseph Losey. Produced by Joseph Losey, Norman Priggen. Written by Evan Jones (screenplay) based on the play Hamp (1964) by John Wilson and the novel Return to the Wood (1955) by James Lansdale Hodson. Starring Dirk Bogarde, Tom Courtenay, Leo McKern, Barry Foster. Running time: 88 min.

Synopsis: During the First World War, in the British trenches at Passchendaele, an army private, Arthur Hamp (Tom Courtenay) is accused of desertion. He is to be defended at his trial by Captain Hargreaves (Dirk Bogarde). 

Hamp had been a volunteer at the outbreak of the war and was the sole survivor of his company, but then decided to "go for a walk"; he had contemplated walking to his home in London but after more than 24 hours on the road, he is picked up by the Military Police and sent back to his unit to face court-martial for desertion.

Hargreaves is initially impatient with the simple-minded Hamp, but comes to identify with his plight. Following testimony from an unsympathetic doctor (Leo McKern), Hargreaves is unable to persuade the court to consider the possibility that Hamp may have been suffering from shell shock. 

Hamp is found guilty, but the court's recommendation for mercy is overruled by higher command, who wish to make an example of Hamp to bolster morale in his division. He is shot by firing squad, but as he is not killed outright Hargreaves has to finish him off with a revolver. His family are informed that he has been killed in action. (Source: Wikipedia)






➤ Capote


Capote
2005. USA. Directed by Bennett Miller. Produced by Caroline Baron, William Vince, Michael Ohoven. Screenplay by Dan Futterman. Based on Capote by Gerald Clarke. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins Jr., Bruce Greenwood, Mark Pellegrino, Amy Ryan, Chris Cooper. Running time: 114 min.

SynopsisCapote is a 2005 biographical film about Truman Capote, which follows the events during the writing of Capote's non-fiction book In Cold Blood. 

In 1959, the four dead bodies of the Clutter family are discovered on their Kansas farm. While reading The New York Times, Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is riveted by the story and calls The New Yorker magazine editor William Shawn (Bob Balaban) to tell him that he plans to document the tragedy.

Capote travels to Kansas, inviting childhood friend Nelle Harper Lee (Catherine Keener) to come along. He intends to interview those involved with the Clutter family, with Lee as his go-between and facilitator. Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper), the Kansas Bureau of Investigation's lead detective on the case, brushes him off, but Dewey's wife Marie (Amy Ryan) is a fan of Capote's writing and persuades her husband to invite Capote and Lee to their house for dinner.

Capote's stories of movie sets and film stars captivate Marie. Over time, her husband warms to Capote and allows him to view the photographs of the victims. The Deweys, Lee, and Capote are having dinner when the murder suspects, Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.) and Richard "Dick" Hickock (Mark Pellegrino), are caught. Flattery, bribery, and a keen insight into the human condition facilitate Capote's visits to the prison where the accused are held.

Capote begins to form an attachment to Smith. He informs Shawn of his intent to expand the story into a full-length book. Following the trial and conviction, Capote gains continued access to the murderers by bribing Warden Marshall Krutch (Marshall Bell).

Capote spends the following years regularly visiting Smith and learning about his life, excepting a year-long stint when he goes to Morocco and Spain to write the "first three parts" of the book, accompanied by his romantic partner Jack Dunphy (Bruce Greenwood).

The story of Smith's life, his remorseful manner, and his emotional sincerity impress Capote, who becomes emotionally attached to him despite the gruesome murders. Capote aids Smith and Hickock by obtaining expert legal counsel for them and initiating an appeal. Still he is frustrated, as Smith declines to relate exactly what happened on the night of the murders. (Source: Wikipedia)






➤ In Cold Blood


In Cold Blood
1967. USA.  Written, produced and directed by Richard Brooks, based on Truman Capote's book In Cold Blood. Starring Robert Blake as Perry Smith, Scott Wilson as Richard "Dick" Hickock, and John Forsythe as Alvin Dewey. Music by Quincy Jones. Running times: 135 min.

SynopsisIn November 1959, Perry Smith (Robert Blake) and "Dick" Hickock (Scott Wilson) concoct a plan to invade the home of the Clutter family, as Mr. Clutter supposedly keeps a large supply of cash in a safe.

When the two criminals execute the robbery, they are unable to find a safe as Mr.Clutter uses checks. In order to leave no witnesses, they murder Mr. and Mrs. Clutter and their two teenage children. 

The bodies are discovered the next day, and a police investigation is immediately launched. 

As the investigation builds, the two wanted men continue to elude law enforcement by heading south and crossing into Mexico; but, after a while, they return to the U.S. and decide to travel to Las Vegas to win some money at gambling. There, they are arrested for violating parole, being in possession of a stolen car, and passing bad checks.

The police separately interrogate the two men about the Clutter murders. Both Smith and Hickock admit to passing bad checks, but they deny knowing anything about the murders. 

The police claim that a mistake made by the men is that they left a witness, but they are slowed by Smith's refusal to provide answers. Next, the police confront them with evidence, such as a bloody footprint matching the boots worn by one of the men. 

Finally, Hickock confesses and states that he does not want to be executed for the crime, claiming that Smith committed all of the murders... (Sources: Wikipedia, Imdb)






➤ Le Pull-Over Rouge (The Red Sweater)


Le Pull-Over Rouge
1979. France. Director: Michel Drach. Producer: Michel Drach. Story by: Gilles Perrault. Screenplay: Michel Drach, Gilles Perrault, Ariane Litaize. Cast: Serge Avedikian, Michelle Marquais, Claire Deluca. Running time: 80 min.

Synopsis: A film version of author Gilles Perrault's best-selling book about the 1976 trial and execution of Christian Ranucci, a 20-year-old man convicted with extremely inconclusive evidence of murdering an eight-year-old girl in Southern France. 

Christian Ranucci (April 6, 1954 – July 28, 1976) was one of the last persons executed in France. He was convicted after a two-day trial of the abduction and murder, committed on June 3, 1974, of eight-year-old Marie-Dolorès Rambla.

His case greatly influenced the debate over capital punishment in France after the book Le Pull-over rouge (1978) was published by former lawyer and journalist Gilles Perrault. It called Ranucci's guilt into question, and had a notable impact on public opinion, having sold over 1 million copies.

This fact-based film takes place in Southern France circa 1974, where a little girl's murder puts nearby residents into a panic.

Soon, young Frenchman Christian Ranucci (Serge Avedikian) is taken into custody amid the public outcry to find the killer. 

Ranucci is quickly tried and sentenced to death, but not without controversy and questions about his trial, which might have excluded exonerating evidence -- an oversize red sweater found on the crime scene that apparently didn't belong to Ranucci... (Sources: Google, Wikipedia)



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