Throughout his life, Truman Capote was an interesting, flamboyant character who continues to fascinate people long after his death. As intrigued by him as people were, Capote’s life wasn’t an easy one, especially after the subjects of his unpublished novel Answered Prayers started seeing themselves appearing on paper. The Capote Tapes take a closer look at Truman’s life and the scandalous novel that had his high-society friends so worried that they sabotaged his career.
The Capote Tapes is an intimate look into the world of Truman Capote. You get a background on Truman and what people thought of him. That’s either through a series of audio interviews that George Plimpton conducted in the late 1990’s. Plimpton, by the way, interviewed some of the people in Truman’s circles. There are also newer camera interviews of people who knew him well. The documentary starts at the beginning, looking at his childhood when his mother’s family raised him before moving forward to his writing of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood.
Throughout it all, you see Truman for the person he put on public display. The person high society invited to their parties because he made them laugh. He put on a show for them by not filtering his thoughts. Even the clips from his appearance on talk shows with Johnny Carson and Dick Cavett gives you a sense that the Truman you saw publicly wasn’t the real person he was. This becomes even more apparent when he started to talk about his book Answered Prayers.
Throughout his time attending parties with the rich people of New York, Truman never hid the fact that he was planning on writing about them. None of them believed him however, or thought at the very least he’d leave out the most scandalous parts. For the last 20 minutes of the documentary, however, you find out that Truman wasn’t just talking. Although he changed all the names, people knew the stories were about them. The novel was never published, but chapters of it were. It was enough for Truman to find himself no longer invited to parties. And people treated him like an outcast among the people he’d spent a large part of his life around.
Like Truman himself, The Capote Tapes is not for everyone. Some may view him with a more sympathetic eye than others, while some may just look at him as being the phoniest of the phony. However you view it though, the film is well made and an interesting glimpse into Americana.