Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst is a fascinating documentary about three cases: the 1982 disappearance of Kathie Durst; the 2000 murder of Susan Berman; and the 2001 murder of Morris Black.

What do all three cases have in common? Robert Durst.

Durst was born into a wealthy family that deals with real estate. Despite his privileged upbringing, his younger years were troubled. At one point, he saw a psychiatrist, who mentioned that Durst might have schizophrenic tendencies.

After graduating from college and feeling pressured by his father, Durst went on to work for his father’s company. However, he lacked the knack for business that his brother had. His brother Douglas, rather than Robert, would become the heir to the Durst Organization.

At the time of Kathie Durst’s disappearance in 1982, she was married to Robert, although the two were estranged. During the weeks preceding her disappearance, the two had fought over a divorce settlement as well as other financial issues. Kathie was last seen at a party, which she left after receiving a phone call from Robert.

Susan Berman was Robert’s longtime friend and confidante. When the cold case of Kathie’s disappearance was reopened, Kathie’s friends suggested that Berman might have information implicating Robert. However, Berman was found murdered on Christmas Eve, 2000.

When Morris Black was killed in 2001, he was Durst’s neighbor. Durst was arrested and charged with Black’s murder. The trial took place in 2003, at which time Durst claimed self-defense. Due to a lack of forensic evidence, Durst was acquitted of the murder charge.

New evidence surrounding Berman’s murder came to light during the filming of The Jinx. Director and writer Andrew Jarecki had previously made a film, All Good Things, which was based on the disappearance of Kathie Durst. After the release of All Good Things, Robert Durst contacted Jarecki, granting him interviews which would later be used in the documentary. You might recall news reports from 2015 when The Jinx originally aired on HBO. Durst was caught off camera on a live microphone and his recorded statements were rather shocking.

The Jinx is a fascinating examination of not just one, but three cases that all reaffirm the adage, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” Fans of true crime will find this a compelling documentary.

Search the VBPL catalog for The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. If you enjoy this miniseries, you might also like All Good Things, the feature film which was based on the marriage of Kathie and Robert Durst.

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