Episode #44: Murder in New Hampshire: The Pamela Smart Story
Listen to Episode 44 of the Podcast here while you enjoy the show notes.
SUMMARY - Murder in New Hampshire: The Pamela Smart Story is a dramatic reenactment of the events surrounding the murder of Gregg Smart on May 1, 1990. The prosecution states that Pam (played by Helen Hunt) starts an affair with a high school student, Billy (played by Chad Allen), and devises a plan to have him and his friends murder her husband so they can be together.
Screenplay by William Wood; Directed by Joyce Chopra, and premiering on CBS on September 24, 1991.
Our conversation wasn't solely about this movie, but since it is based on a crime that had just happened months earlier, we also looked at the 2014 HBO Documentary "Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart" https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1826730/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_7
This was one of the biggest news stories of the year, gaining national attention, but there is little mention of it in the movie, aside from a couple quick exterior shots.
The HBO documentary does a good job at poking holes in the various arguments the trial (and by default, the 1991 movie) makes. It was interesting to see how the TV movie worked to paint Pam as evil from the start and how she would overreact to something like a haircut.
It's interesting to see how brazen they make Pamela's character to be. She's written like a hyper manipulative super villain.
Watching the 1991 movie certainly piqued our interest as to how many of the details were real. Was this commercial they were filming a real thing and is there footage of it? Yes to both.
The sultry pictures are also real, although like most of the details, there are conflicting stories in the HBO documentary to explain why they were taken and how Billy got possession of them.
Cecila's role in the whole thing is interesting and possibly meant to act as the audience's perspective. She's also used as a foreshadowing device.
There's really strong acting all around, especially from Helen Hunt and Chad Allen.
All the scenes explaining the crime plotting seemed extremely sloppy, however. That's where the HBO Documentary does a good job of explaining what actual evidence the case had and where procedures were not followed.
We also talk a little about the role of media in the entire affair. Local reporter Bill Spencer plays himself here and also gives an interview in the documentary.
Overall, the film was fascinating for many reasons and historically speaking may have helped contribute to the rise of the true crime boom that would shortly follow.
Awards Talk: The American Cinema Editors nominated Robert Florio for Best Edited Television Special
TRUE CRIME & POP CULTURE
This week, the true crime was the movie. That's probably good enough, right?
No, you get more. We actually skip the pop culture stuff this week and talk more about what has happened since 1991 to the key people convicted.
If you want to read up on more of this as well, here are a few resources to start with:
RANKINGS & RATINGS
Nikki 1-5 star scale - 3 out of 5
Jon 0-4 star scale - 3 out of 4
Would you watch it again? - So far, we've seen 2 or 3 made-for-TV movies (depending on if you count "Cast A Deadly Spell") and this is possibly the best. Despite that, we might not actively try to watch it again. It did its job to get us interested in the case and we'd rather watch other shows or updates about Pamela Smart instead.
If you want to watch Murder in New Hampshire: The Pamela Smart Story, as of this recording in December 2021, it’s available on Tubi, IMDB TV, Roku Channel, Digital Rental, VHS, DVD. Check your local listings.
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