Gerald Clarke’s 1988 biography, Capote, was a commercial success and inspired the film for which Philip Seymour Hoffman won an Oscar for Best Actor in the film in 2005, Capote.
The apex of Truman Capote’s career comes for inventing a new literary genre in the 1960s, with the creative non-fiction crime story, In Cold Blood which he co-wrote the script with director Richard Brooks and starred Robert Blake.
Truman Capote the Man
Truman Capote was eccentric. From Monroeville, Alabama, he grew up next door to Harper Lee—she later fictionalized Truman in her book To Kill a Mockingbird. There was nothing ordinary about Capote’s personality. Sparkling and outlandish, his friendships with movie stars and the international élite made him a desirable addition to parties. Coupled with his witty intellect, his literary reputation, and his knowledge of gossip, he transformed himself into a charismatic character. The only person alive today who I can compare him to is Elton John.
Truman Capote was a product of his own big imagination stuffed into a 5’3 frame. I recommend the biography by Gerald Clarke who interviewed him and created an authentic account before Truman’s passing in 1984 to liver disease.
Truman Capote was the one who wrote the book, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He oversaw the iconic film starring Audrey Hepburn. He hated the butchering of his story but loved partying with the cast. However, it was the instant success of his non-fiction crime story, In Cold Blood, published in 1965 which sealed his literary notability. When Capote read of the murders of the Clutter family in Kansas, he traveled to the crime scene and recreated the events in a suspenseful narration. He sat for weeks with the death row pair who shot and killed the family. Truman Capote put us in the minds of the ex-convict killers and the reader looked beyond the crime and saw them as human. This creative non-fiction style was the first of its kind making Truman Capote famous. The film version of In Cold Blood was an excellent film.
The film Capote was a biopic of Gerald Clarke’s biography and focused on the events surrounding the creation of the book, In Cold Blood. Philip Seymour Hoffman was great in the film showing his versatility as an actor able to recreate an unusual person. Actor Toby Jones was furious not to get the part complaining that Philip Seymour Hoffman wouldn’t pull it off since Hoffman was 5’10 and Toby Jones a more proper height at 5’3. Plus, Toby Jones is a fine actor and the spitting image of Truman Capote.
Regardless, Philip Seymour Hoffman captured the essence of the author and the top award at the Oscars. Toby Zones got his own shot playing Capote in the 2006 version of the story called Infamous.
It’s a unique cluster of stories surrounding the amazing Truman Capote. I would recommend reading the biography, the book, and then watch PSH in the film and don’t forget the 1967 film In Cold Blood. All stand on their own as solid entertainment.
“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.” Truman Capote
What did you think of the book and the films?