In November 1959, Truman Capote, the author of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and a favorite figure in what is soon to be known as the jet set, read an article on a back page of the New York Times. It reported the murders of four members of a farm family, the Clutters, in Holcomb, Kan.
Similar stories appear in newspapers almost every day, but something about this one caught Capote's eye. It presented an opportunity, he believed, to test his long-held theory that, in the hands of the right writer, non-fiction can be as compelling as fiction.
What impact have the murders had on that tiny town on the wind-swept plains? With that as his subject, he convinced The New Yorker magazine to give him an assignment and he sets out for Kansas.
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Caught in Las Vegas, the killers, Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.) and Dick Hickock (Mark Pellegrino), were returned to Kansas, where they were tried, convicted and sentenced to die. Capote visited them in jail. As he got to know them, he realized that what he had thought would be a magazine article had grown into a book.
His subject would be the collision of two Americas: the safe, protected country the Clutters knew and the rootless, amoral country inhabited by their killers.