Corbin H. Crable
When word of Brooks’ arrival was published in area newspapers, residents from Edgerton and surrounding cities flocked to town to watch the movie being filmed – and maybe even get a chance to meet Robert Blake.
Braun took the opportunity to chat up director Richard Brooks, with whom he discussed Hickock and Smith’s 1965 execution.
“Brooks was against capital punishment,” Braun said. “He told me so.”
Those who showed up on the set were treated well. Caterers brought in huge lunches to feed everyone on site, and Braun said he remembers food always being present on the set – coffee or rolls, for instance, on which passersby could snack throughout the day.
One day, Braun, remembering his first-edition copy of “In Cold Blood,” even brought his book for the entire cast and crew to sign. Blake’s signature, of course, was first, appearing at the top of the title page.
Brooks needed something from Braun and the city of Edgerton, as well. He used Braun’s filling station – a mainstay around town – in the film, and paid Braun $50 for a one-day use of the station. Braun still has the check stub from Columbia Pictures.
Brooks would even go on to film scenes at the actual Clutter house, which still stands to this day. Both Wilson and Blake later described feelings of discomfort when filming on that location.
But Brooks took some liberties with the setting. For instance, Braun said, he took one highway sign and pointed it in an opposite direction, wanting for Hickock and Smith to be able to drive toward it as the sun was setting. And the number of newer model cars in his shots simply wouldn’t do – according to Tye, since the movie was set during the time of the murders, Brooks brought in cars and trucks that were manufactured in 1959 or earlier, in an attempt to maintain consistency.
The movie made its American debut on Dec. 14, 1967, instantly garnering rave reviews. “In Cold Blood” went on to snag several Academy Award nods, including Best Picture.
(To be continued)