Bonnie And Clyde

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Bonnie and Clyde

Gangsters during the 1930s. Bonnie Parker (1910-34) and Clyde Barrow (1909-34) roamed the Southwest, robbing banks and killing at least twelve persons, nine of whom were law officers. They courted publicity and, despite their outlaw status, became folk heroes to the depression-ridden readers who followed their exploits in the press. They were killed by Louisiana lawmen after eluding capture for two years. (Webb, 14)

Left to right, Buck Barrow (Gene Hackman), Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) and Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) rob a bank in Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde(photo courtesy of Photofest).

Their early crimes are inconsequential, but then people start getting killed and the gang goes permanently on the lam. Eventually ambushed by the law, Bonnie and Clyde die in a hail of bullets that blast their bodies into a nightmarish dance of death. (Treherne, 48)

Truffaut turned down their invitation to direct it because of a prior commitment, but he made helpful suggestions--introducing them to Joseph H. Lewis's 1950 Gun Crazy, for instance, at a screening Godard also attended--and when Godard also proved unavailable, the screenwriters approached Hollywood studios and directors. No sale. (Steele, 39)

The new honchos shifted attention and resources to their own projects, dumping the Penn-Beatty picture with virtually no distribution. Within weeks Bonnie and Clyde was as dead and gone as any luckless victim of the Barrow gang. (Ramsey, 69)

The real-life Bonnie and Clyde pose for a snapshot while on the run in the Thirties.

Meanwhile, favorable reviews started emerging from the likes of Andrew Sarris and Judith Crist, and then Pauline Kael weighed in with a whopping 9,000 words, most of them laudatory. Concluding with precisely the defense this film needed, Kael called it "an entertaining movie that has some feeling to it," then acknowledged that it "upsets people" and speculated on the reason: "Maybe it's because ...
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