Film Flick: Bonnie and Clyde

Friday, December 28, 2012



Life's hard when you're on the run, but such is life when you rob banks, and if you ask Bonnie and Clyde, that is exactly what they will tell you they do- rob banks. Though a classic now, it was a surprise at the time, a true underdog. The film, Bonnie and Clyde , is the story of lawbreakers who die, had a cast of virtual unknowns, and a hit-or-miss director- not a promising start.

Yet what came out on film was revolutionary for the time. It feels more like a contemporary movie than one of the nineteen-sixties. Perhaps it is the violence, the unusual shots, or the film score filled with hellbent banjos that give it that sense of modern film-making. Genres are electrifyingly, delightfully, and even uncomfortably blended in this film. It easily slips from humor to violence at the drop of a dime, but such suddenness seems purposeful, an attempt to keep the audience discomfited by the violence. Screenwriters David Newman and Robert Benton took two real-life, small-time criminals and managed to make them protagonists without being heroes, gave us romance without romanticizing, and made us both laugh and then stop short as murder is displayed so matter-of-factly side by side with the jokes. It made- or re-made- the career of it's stars, director, crew and, yes, even a film critic (a veteran critic at the New York Times panned the film; a newcomer praised it. After box office success, guess who got who's job?).


Loosely based on the the true-life happenings of the Barrow Gang, the film follows their unspectacular criminal life attempting to rob banks and evade the police. The film starts out on a flirty and funny note, with the the two leads' first meeting and first failed attempts at robbery. Their gang continues to grow in a series of misadventures, but then a man is killed. The movie's tone becomes gradually more and more bleak, as their desire for fame and money finally lead up to the famous ambush that meant "the end for Bonnie and Clyde."

Faye Dunaway makes her premiere with this film as Bonnie Parker, spurning several fashion crazes along the way, and Warren Beatty not only co-starred along side her as Clyde Barrow, but was also the one who got the script made into a movie. It was a gamble that ended up making him rich as he agreed to a low salary in exchange for 40% of the gross! But it is just as much the supporting actors who made the film shine, most notatably with Estelle Parson winning her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress with her role as Blanche Barrow, the hysterical in-law and fellow gang member.




The two issues I had about the film was first, how easily Bonnie seemed to fall for and run away with this guy, (but let's forgive them that- a movie is only so long) and then the inaccuracies with the tale they billed as "true." Many facts were changed or misrepresented, including leaving out Bonnie being severely crippled for the last year of her life, the way one character was an amalgam of several people, and ultimately, the gang's purpose as criminals. The movie portrays the gang as eager for immortality through fame, including sending in their own poetry and photographs to be published in newspapers. In fact, their notoriety was a hinderance both to everyday life and to Clyde's personal goals for the gang, which was making life tough for the Texas penal system. The most offensive blow- to the real Blanche Barrow anyway- was the slanderous representation of herself. "They make me look like a flaming horse's ass," she complained, when unsuccessfully suing. She did, ironically, remain good friends with Beatty, who had convinced her to give permission to use her name and likeness in the first place though. Likewise, one surviving gang member told the crowd he watched the film with, that life on the run was nothing like in the movies. As unsavory as the film portrayed it, real life was far worse. So, remember that, when you're watching the film and thinking how much you too want to say, just once in your life, "We rob banks."

11 comments

  1. The styles in the flick were wonderful.
    http://nauticalowl.blogspot.com/

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    1. Oh, yes! I love Dunaway's looks here.

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    1. I enjoyed and it would "give it two thumbs up" despite the historical inaccuracies I mentioned. Its well done, interesting and stylish.

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  3. I've embarrasingly never seen this. Always wanted to!
    -Jessi
    haircutandgeneralattitude.blogspot.com

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    1. I'd never seen it for years either. I made a goal (a few years back...I'm slow) to watch all 100 of the American Film Institute's top 100 films. Only reason I picked this one up, but I've seen a ton of great films that way!

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  4. awesome following you :)

    hope you visit my blog too<3

    happyleeliving.blogspot.com

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  5. Ahhh I've always wanted to watch this! Gonna have to go find it on Netflix now!

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    1. Definitely! Hope to hear how you like it when you get a chance to watch it.

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  6. This is great! I fell in love with this movie the first time I saw it. So much to love about it; particularly how Bonnie was styled!

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  7. Dunaway was so stylish in this for sure!

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