This week’s Movie Monologue Monday is going to look at Robert Blake in In Cold Blood.
Based on a real-life events researched by Truman Capote, In Cold Blood details the story of two men accused of murdering four members of the Clutter family.
Robert Blake plays Perry Smith, one of the convicted men facing the death penalty for the crime.
I think it’s a great piece for theatre artists to study. There are so many monologues like this out there – a “memory” monologue where a character recounts a story from the past. On the page they look like great choices for auditions, but they’re much tougher to pull off than they appear. Monologues like this are passive, they are brief bits of storytelling. They work fine in the greater context (the play or film) because we know the character well and we’re learning something about them.
But in the context of an audition you want your monologue to be active. You want to show the character going on a journey from Point A to Point B, which is touch to accomplish in a memory piece like this.
Blake does a wonderful job drawing us into the story of the monologue. We live it with him. This is a fine example of less is more. Blake sits in the text and lets it do the heavy lifting. He describes a scarring event from his childhood, perhaps the event that led him to become a cold-blooded killer, but he doesn’t over-emote. He trusts in the text.
Lastly, check out the amazing cinematography. Perry is far too emotionally detached to cry in this scene but the way the light hits his face makes it look like streams of tears are pouring down his face.