For one week beginning Friday, Kalamazoo’s KP Cinemas will be one of 25 theaters around the country to screen He Went That Way, a thriller co-produced by alumnus Hugh Broder ’77 and based off a chapter in a book written by the late Professor Emeritus Conrad Hilberry. The film will show daily at 10 a.m.
Hilberry interviewed the imprisoned Kalamazoo-area serial killers Larry and Danny Ranes in 1976, influencing his 1987 book Luke Karamazov, which details the brothers’ lives through the pseudonyms Ralph Searl (Larry) and Tommy Searl (Danny).
In 1964, Larry Lee Ranes confessed to killing five men over a period of three months and was sentenced to prison for life. Eight years later, his older brother, Danny Ranes, in a separate case, was sentenced to prison for life for the murder of four young women. The events described in Luke Karamazov reflect real events, spotlighting the two killers, their friends, the woman who married both of them, and prison officials, while addressing the men’s lives, thoughts, reactions, brutal childhoods, and lives in prison more than their crimes.
Hilberry’s story piqued Broder’s interest when Broder discovered it years later in a Michigan authors display at a Detroit bookstore, and it inspired him to pursue a personal goal of creating an independent film. Hilberry provided Broder with the interview tapes, and after digitizing the recordings, Broder heard one of the Ranes brothers say, “You guys all ask me about the five guys I killed. Why don’t you want to hear about the one I didn’t kill?”—inspiring the story Broder decided to tell.
He Went That Way premiered last summer at the Tribeca Film Festival and reflects the real-life account of celebrity animal trainer Dave Pitts, the sole survivor of Larry’s killing spree. The film stars Zachary Quinto and Jacob Elordi with Quinto playing Jim Goodwin, a character based on Pitts, and Elordi portraying Bobby Falls, a character based on Larry. The two have a fateful 1964 meeting along Route 66 that pairs the 19-year-old serial killer with the celebrity trainer and his American TV darling, Spanky the chimpanzee, for three days on the road. The men and their personalities continually conflict as their shared journey becomes treacherous.