Review

  • ... Because he is third billed, is hardly on screen versus everybody else, and he spends most of the time he is on camera mutely over emoting. This premiered in February 1993, so this was before he was a shooting star on NYPD Blue the following year.

    This was Robert Blake's first acting job in eight years, and he does a serviceable job playing this film's version of John List. I'm not sure List was this powder keg always about to explode that he is portrayed here, but then the guy was such a loner all his life there probably is not much in the way of insight in existence unless it is coming from police psychiatrists after List's arrest. If you don't know, List is infamous for having bought a mansion, then lost his job as a bank executive when he could not relate to people, pretended to his family that he still had that job, embezzled from his mother to meet his bills, and then when the money ran out killed his elderly mother, his wife, and his three children and was a fugitive from justice for 17 years before being caught in 1989.

    The film follows List after he murders his family and disappears, but pretty much shows the same pattern in his new life that he had in his old one - He finds a church, gets married to a woman who is looking for security who is ultimately disappointed in his ability to provide, buys a house he cannot afford, and is frustrated by his lack of success in the workplace.

    It gets one key thing wrong - When List was arrested he initially denied that he was John List. Also the great irony of List killing his family at least in part because of the financial burden of the mansion he bought in New Jersey is not mentioned. That irony was that after the house burned down in 1972 it was discovered that the stained glass sky light over the ballroom was Tiffany glass and worth an estimated hundred thousand dollars at the time. That would have solved List's financial problems.

    This is a very mediocre and lazy effort at telling one of the great true crime stories of the twentieth century, and I found it disappointing overall.