I love Chicago, crime dramas, and Leonardo DiCaprio, and finally I can love them all at the same time. An adaptation of Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City will star DiCaprio as America’s first, and Chicago’s own, notorious serial killer H. H. Holmes.
Apparently DiCaprio wasn’t the only one interested in playing H. H. Holmes on the big screen. Tom Cruise also wanted to dissect Holmes for moviegoers. And who can blame Tom Cruise for wanting to play such a complex and fascinating character?
Born, Herman W. Mudgett, multiple marriages, insurance frauds, and medical school failure may have been responsible for his name change. Holmes used the backdrop of the Chicago World’s Fair, The Columbia Expedition in 1893, to lure unsuspecting young women into his Englewood murder castle.
When finally discovered, Chicago police found disturbing evidence of Holmes depraved captivity, torture, and murder in a labyrinth of rooms and hidden passageways. The castle hosted its own crematorium, gas chamber, and dissection table in addition to the many unsuspecting guests who checked in to Holmes’ hotel.
While Larson’s Devil in a White City takes a more historically accurate peek at what is known of H. H. Holmes’ crimes, another book, Depraved by Harold Schechter, delves into an embellished account by filling in some of the blanks.
DiCaprio’s love for playing unreliable characters is well matched for Holmes’ charm and appearance. The duplicity of portraying a respected member of Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, circa the 19th century, while continuing to murder and mutilate for fun and profit, makes for a train wreck of a downfall when Holmes finally nears capture.
From the most bizarre marriage to caring (if you could call it that) for children to manipulating almost everyone Holmes encounters, the sociopathic Holmes never received near the attention of Jack the Ripper, whose crimes didn’t remotely compete with Holmes’ prolific number of victims (we think).
The murder castle built by Holmes no longer exists, and his devilish deeds will never be known for certain. However, spending a few hours contemplating his atrocities is no less intriguing. No release date has been set quite yet… Either way, Leonardo DiCaprio will be in Chicago, right?
Fleming, Mike. (2010, November 1). Devil of a Role for Leonardo DiCaprio, Deadline.Com. Retrieved November 11, 2010, from http://www.deadline.com/2010/11/devil-of-a-role-for-leonardo-dicaprio/