Shakespeare’s Macbeth and his Lady longed for power at any cost. They set the bar very high for notorious couples seeking shortcuts to the top. “Death in Small Doses” provides another twist on tales of taking the easy way. What is it that captures our attention about the idea of a trusted partner, providing the deadly poison that defeats the soul and spirit before delivering a deadly blow? Is it he betrayal? What do we love about stories of those who risk it all to get more than their fair share? What happens when a person finally finds their soulmate, but knows nothing of the darkest shadows of that mate’s soul?
History is filled with true stories of betrayal and murder. A man in Boston was convicted in 2004 of murdering his wife with antifreeze-laced Gatorade. The 2000 death sentence of a California woman was upheld by the California Supreme Court when they found that her sentence was fair for the murder of her husband. She carried it out with a concoction of oleander tea and antifreeze. He was her fourth husband. There must be more to these stories than the satisfaction of justice being served. There is always an element that somewhere, someone has “gotten away with it.”
Norman Mailer, reportedly quipped “Let’s get out of here. I think this guy is innocent. I thought we were going to be having dinner with a man who actually tried to kill his wife. This is boring,” when Alan Dershowitz described how Claus Von Bulow had not actually attempted to murder his wife with a lethal dose of insulin. Sunny Von Bulow’s story was depicted in 1990’s “Reversal of Fortune,” with Jeremy Irons playing the husband who seems so likely to have done it. By the end of the film, you are not relieved to find that he was innocent. Instead, you wonder how justice could be blind to Von Bulow’s obviously oozing guilt. Irons won both the Oscar and the Golden Globe for his portrayal of the innocent man who seemed so rightly accused.
“Death in Small Doses” adds another twisted tale of deception and disloyalty to these stories we love. Richard Thomas, of “The Waltons” plays the husband accused of killing his wife. The film plays with his fame as “John Boy,” perhaps one of the most trusted and upstanding characters in American television. He is perfectly cast as the husband who presents evidence that his wife, who conveniently suffered from clinical depression, committed suicide. Tess Harper, plays the Assistant D.A, who is determined to uncover the truth. Harper went on to play roles in “No Country For Old Men”, 1986’s “Crimes of the Heart,” and 1997’s “The Jackal,” with Bruce Willis and Richard Gere.
From the first fatal betrayal by Cain to the political betrayals that emerge daily from Washington DC, nothing captures the public’s attention like the intrigue of the treacherous former friend and lover. Our stories explore the depths to which greed can drive us. Maybe we love these stories because they reinforce, ultimately, our sense of what’s right and wrong. We love our stories of death in small doses to keep our sense of morality healthy.
Watch Death in Small Does on MovieZoot.com here.