Infamous (film)

Infamous (film)

Infobox Film
name = Infamous

image_size =
caption = Original poster
director = Douglas McGrath
producer = Jocelyn Hayes
writer = Douglas McGrath
Based on a book by George Plimpton
narrator =
starring = Toby Jones
Sandra Bullock
Daniel Craig
Jeff Daniels
music = Rachel Portman
cinematography = Bruno Delbonnel
editing = Camilla Toniolo
distributor = Warner Independent Pictures
Arclight Films
released = October 13 2006 (limited)
runtime = 110 min.
country = United States
language = English
budget = $13,000,000 (est.)
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website =
amg_id =
imdb_id = 0420609

"Infamous" is a 2006 American drama film written and directed by Douglas McGrath. The screenplay, based on the 1997 book "Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career" by George Plimpton, covers the period from the late 1950s through the mid-1960s during which Truman Capote researched and wrote his bestseller "In Cold Blood", a subject covered in the film "Capote" a year earlier.

Plot synopsis

Truman Capote, known in New York City society for his wit and fashion flair as much as he is recognized in literary circles as the celebrated writer of "Other Voices, Other Rooms" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's", reads a small article about the murder of a farming family in Holcomb, Kansas in the back pages of the "New York Times" of November 16, 1959. Curious as to how the residents would react to a brutal massacre in their midst, the author and his friend Harper Lee travel to the small town, obstensibly so Capote can interview people for a magazine article. Once there, he realizes there might be enough material for what he eventually describes as a nonfiction novel.

Capote, whose dress and demeanor both amuse and dismay law enforcement officials, allows Lee to act as a buffer between himself and those whose trust he needs to gain in order to obtain as much background information as possible. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation's lead detective on the case, Alvin Dewey, has refused to cooperate with the writer, but when his starstruck wife Marie meets Capote in front of the Velveeta display at the local grocery store, she invites him and Lee to Christmas dinner. He eventually wins over his host with his stories about Humphrey Bogart, John Huston, Ava Gardner, and the like. As a result, when ex-convicts Richard Hickock and Perry Smith are apprehended in Las Vegas and extradited to Holcomb, Capote is permitted to interview them in their cells. The two men are tried and found guilty, and a lengthy period of appeals begins.

Capote slowly forms an attachment to Smith. He empathizes with his unhappy childhood, and his remorseful manner, genuine sincerity, and obvious intelligence impress him. Eventually the criminal's reciprocal feelings become evident, although he has difficulty dealing with his emotions. Smith learns Truman plans to title his book "In Cold Blood", which suggests the author thinks of him only as a merciless killer. Angered, he violently subdues Capote and nearly rapes him, then embraces him with a passionate kiss.

Perry steadfastly refuses to describe the night of the murders, which greatly angers Truman. He seems to want to hear the details not only as a writer in search of the truth but as someone who finds it difficult to believe a loved one could be guilty of such a crime. Eventually Perry acquiesces and discusses what transpired.

Truman finds himself entangled in a personal and professional dilemma. As much as he wants Perry to be sentenced to life in prison, death by hanging will provide a far more satisfying ending for readers of his book. He begins to waver in his feelings, and provides no legal assistance for the final appeal. Perry and Richard have exhausted all their options; they ask that Truman be present at their April 14, 1965 execution, and he complies with their request. Afterwards he learns Perry bequeathed his meager belongings to him, and among them he finds a charcoal sketch of him the killer had drawn.

Production notes

The film's original title alternated between "Have You Heard?" and "Every Word Is True".

"Infamous" premiered at the August 2006 Venice Film Festival. It differs from the earlier "Capote" in that it occasionally breaks away from the Kansas setting to allow Capote's Manhattan society friends and professional acquaintances to comment on and express opinions about him to an unseen interlocutor during mock interviews. It also is more explicit about the romantic feelings Capote and Perry Smith shared.

The singer portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow originally was intended to be Peggy Lee [ [ "Interview", December 2004] ] . The situation of an audience being held spellbound by a performer falling silent in the middle of a song was based on a real-life nightclub performance by Barbara Cook ["Infamous" DVD commentary by Douglas McGrath] .

Principal cast

*Toby Jones ..... Truman Capote
*Sandra Bullock ..... Harper Lee
*Daniel Craig ..... Perry Smith
*Jeff Daniels ..... Alvin Dewey
*Lee Pace ..... Richard Hickock
*Peter Bogdanovich ..... Bennett Cerf
*Hope Davis ..... Slim Keith
*Isabella Rossellini ..... Marella Agnelli
*Juliet Stevenson ..... Diana Vreeland
*Sigourney Weaver ..... Babe Paley
*Michael Panes ..... Gore Vidal
*John Benjamin Hickey ..... Jack Dunphy
*Gwyneth Paltrow ..... Kitty Dean

Critical reception

In his review in the "New York Times", A.O. Scott called the film "well worth your attention. It is quick-witted, stylish and well acted . . . warmer and more tender, if also a bit thinner and showier, than "Capote" . . . it is in the end more touching than troubling." [ [ "New York Times" review] ]

Rex Reed of "The New York Observer" opined, "They gave the Oscar to the wrong Truman Capote. I do not begrudge the versatile, popular Philip Seymour Hoffman his Oscar for playing the tiny terror in "Capote", but he was doing an impression. In "Infamous" . . . a diminutive actor with a titanic talent named Toby Jones literally becomes the man himself. This is no lisping impersonation learned from watching old Johnny Carson shows: Mr. Jones moves into Truman's skin, heart and brains. "Infamous" shows you the man’s soul. It is a monumental achievement of great artistry and depth. In some ways, the movie is better, too . . . [it] is infinitely fascinating, cinematically breathtaking and largely impeccable. It proves that there's more than one way to tell a story and view a life. It is one hell of a beautiful movie to see and savor." [ [ "The New York Observer" review] ]

In "Variety", David Rooney felt the film "doesn't measure up to its predecessor and seems unlikely to echo the attention it received . . . In the central role, British thesp Toby Jones is a good physical match for Capote, getting his flamboyant mannerisms and creepy, nasal voice down. But unlike Philip Seymour Hoffman's Oscar-winning turn, there's no texture, no under-the-skin sense of the conflict between Capote's ambition for his book and his compassion for, and attraction to, Perry . . . Sandra Bullock's understated performance as Capote's friend Lee is a high point here - wrapped in a cardigan and puffing on cigarettes, she creates a bracingly sturdy character of this plain-speaking, unfussy woman amid a cardboard gallery of flashy sophisticates." [ [ "Variety" review] ]

Mick LaSalle of the "San Francisco Chronicle" observed, "By the standards of most pictures, this is intelligent, thoughtful filmmaking . . . it's only against the exalted benchmark standard set by "Capote" that "Infamous" falls short . . . It's a worthy film in its own right, with its own virtues . . . Either through studying Lee or channeling someone else, Bullock adopts mannerisms and facial expressions that are not her own for this role and then works them into a well-crafted portrait of a highly internal, observant and deep-revolving spirit. It's the performance to take from the movie." [ [ "San Francisco Chronicle" review] ]

In "The Village Voice", Robert Wilonsky stated the film "never comes close to approaching the quiet, devastating brilliance of "Capote" . . . Which is not to say "Infamous" . . . is a far inferior version . . . it's just a lesser version, light in weight and absent the ache . . . It's good, especially during its first half, just not good enough." [ [,wilonsky,74695,20.html "The Village Voice" review] ]

Steve Persall of the "St. Petersburg Times" rated the film B and added, "Infamous" might have been viewed as one of this year's better films if "Capote" hadn't told the same story about the same characters a year ago and done it so well . . . "Infamous" is inferior, although not drastically so, in almost every respect . . . The most obvious comparisons are to be made about performances. Jones is a much more accurate physical representation of Capote than Hoffman, his high-pitched voice sounding a little more affected than his Oscar-winning predecessor. However, the relative shallowness of McGrath's screenplay doesn't offer as many emotional land mines for Jones to play. [He] delivers an uncanny impersonation, while Hoffman's portrayal was a studiously researched impression, a likely more challenging task. Call this race nearly a draw, with Hoffman simply crossing the finish line first." [ [ "St. Petersburg Times" review] ]

In comparing this film to "Capote", David Thomson of "The Independent" asked, "What does it have that's different? . . . [It] has a gallery of Truman Capote's Manhattan friends, people who adored him without ever quite trusting him . . . These cameos give a tone-perfect sense of Capote's life before "In Cold Blood". He is placed as the phenomenon of culture, celebrity and outrage that he was." [ [ "The Independent" review] ]

Awards and nominations

Toby Jones won the London Film Critics Circle Award for British Actor of the Year. Daniel Craig was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor but lost to Alan Arkin in "Little Miss Sunshine".


External links

* [ Official website]
*imdb title|id=0420609|title=Infamous
* [ "Infamous" at]
* [ "Playing a Historical Figure, You Can Copy ... or Conquer" by Ed Liebowitz, "New York Times", August 6, 2006]

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