Truman Capote’s Summer Crossing to be directed by Scarlett Johansson has fascinating back stories like In Cold Blood
Summer Crossing was Capote’s first novel and he started writing it just before World War II was finished in 1943 when he was only 19 years of age. Capote ultimately threw it into the trash after a few minor revisions during subsequent years because he was dissatisfied with his effort.
As his financials became much improved with the publication of In Cold Blood in 1966, Capote moved out of his Brooklyn apartment and gave instruction to the housesitter that whatever he felt behind was meant to be destroyed. Yet, the housesitter dusted off hand-written pages of Summer Crossing and the supplemental notes and kept them for 50 years. Everyone including the publisher thought the famous author’s book was lost forever. After the housesitter passed away, his family tried to auction off the manuscript but couldn’t because of the high asking price and a copyright technicality. Eventually, the novel published by Random House in 2005.
I hadn’t read the book but did read a plot summary from Wikipedia. It seems that the story is a bit like François Truffaut’s 1962 movie ‘Jules et Jim’ which was based on Henri-Pierre Roché’s 1953 semi-autobiographical novel that contains a love triangle and a tragic ending.
Summer Crossing also has a Jewish angle and a remote reference to The Holocaust. The story now is being turned into a movie and will be directed by one of Hollywood’s most famous actresses – Scarlett Johansson who is herself part-Jewish as so eloquently pointed out by the ever-observant Mel Gibson. The production is scheduled to begin in 2014 as announced in Cannes 2013 recently.
No word on whether Johansson will star in the movie or not.
Truman Capote and movies adapted from his work always have interesting co-relations. Audrey Hepburn’s iconic role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s was based on the book by Capote of the same name. The movie was nominated in 1961 for a number of Academy Awards including one for Hepburn as Best Actress. However, it was Henry Mancini’s musical score and Johnny Mercer’s lyrics for ‘Moon River’ that won two soundtrack Oscars. As for Capote, it was his other book, the much darker ‘In Cold Blood’ that gained him the most fame.
In 2005, Philip Seymour Hoffman played the author in the autobiographic ‘Capote’ and won an Oscar Best Actor. ‘Capote’ traces the life of the author during the writing of his book ‘In Cold Blood’ about the real-life story of two brutal murderers who killed Herb Clutter, a successful farmer, his wife and two children in the family home in Holcomb, Kansas during a robbery that gone terribly wrong in November 1959. The two mass murderers were later caught, tried, convicted and executed in 1965. Capote spent years researching the subject and interviewing the two convicts in prison.
Although based on facts, ‘In Cold Blood’ was considered a non-fiction novel as some important facts related to the case was altered by Capote in the re-telling as he himself admitted.
Fiction or not, ‘In Cold Blood’ was adapted into a movie and starring Robert Blake as Perry Smith, one of the killers in 1967. Of course, Blake himself was a murder suspect in his own high-profile case in Los Angeles in which he was accused of shooting his wife Bonnie Lee Bakley in his car parked just outside a restaurant in Studio City in 2001.
Blake was found not guilty in March 2005 and cleared of all charges including the murder and two failed attempts at hiring two separate stunntmen to do away with his wife. However, later that year, Blake was found to be liable for the death of Bakley in a civil trial brought on by Bakley’s three children. The jury ordered Blake to pay $30 million which was cut in half on appeal in 2008.
Ray Van Eng is an award-winning Photographer, Screenwriter and Movie & TV Producer. One of his videos was on view at the Hava Nagila Exhibit, Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in Manhattan, New York, NY. from Sep 2012 to May 2013.