Bugliosi's Smoking Gun
When the police are called to the home of Henry Stockton which has been burned to the ground they find the body of Henry inside. But they quickly realise that the fire wasn't the cause of Henry's death as he had been shot several times to both his head and chest. After investigating the case and talking to Henry's ex-wife Sandra (Rebecca Jenkins) the police draw a blank as the killer left not a single clue to go on even though prosecuting attorney Vincent Bugliosi (Arliss Howard) suspects Sandra and her friend Alan Palliko (Treat Williams) of being involved. A year later the discovery of a pregnant woman, brutally murdered and left in a car gives the police a surprise lead when it comes to the murder of Henry Stockton. But as the police and Bugliosi investigate they discover more than just who was responsible for the murder of Henry Stockton.
There is a scene in "Till Death Us Do Part" where prosecuting attorney, Vincent Bugliosi, questions Sandra about a gun which she was given by a man she no longer has the phone number of. With Rebecca Jenkins as Sandra made up in the style of someone from the 1950s and director Yves Simoneau using shadow falling from a blinded window to highlight her eyes it gives the movie a powerful visual aspect. And there is more as there is a scene where we watch Treat Williams as Alan Palliko lose his temper and basically smash in the face of his wife, an incredibly powerful and violent scene as the intensity of the punches feels horrifyingly real.
The thing about "Till Death Us Do Part" is that whilst it is based on a true story the focus feels more on delivering style and entertainment. Maybe that comes from this made for TV movie having a strong cast with Treat Williams putting in another unsettling performance as a violent man who is not only a killer but a wife beater and a bully, an all round bad guy but who also has that bad guy appeal. Meanwhile you have Arliss Howard being the obsessed good guy who knows he is on to some thing but if he plays by the rules he will never be able to prove it. There are other good performances with the likes of Rebecca Jenkins, Embeth Davidtz and Ashley Judd all playing flawed women which you can understand why they would fall for the mix of danger and charm of Alan.
But this is where "Till Death Us Do Part" falls down because in delivering the style and entertainment the aspects of the true story feel less important. As such by the time "Till Death Us Do Part" was over I felt like I had watched an entertaining drama but not a very good dramatization of a true story.
What this all boils down to is that if you are looking for entertainment "Till Death Us Do Part" will entertain with a strong style and good performances. But as a movie based on a true story this feels like the true story elements took a back seat.