Based on the true story of Clyde Barrow, a charismatic convicted armed robber who sweeps Bonnie Parker, an impressionable, petite, small-town waitress, off her feet, and the two embark on ... See full summary »
A bored small-town girl and a small-time bank robber leave in their wake a string of violent robberies and newspaper headlines that catch the imagination of the Depression-struck Mid-West in this take on the legendary crime spree of these archetypal lovers on the run. Written by
Keith Loh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Arthur Penn's Thirties-set gangster movie first appeared in 1967 it was like a breath of fresh air in the American cinema, (though to be fair, on hindsight, the American cinema in the previous few years, particularly in the Independent sector, wasn't doing too badly). Still, Penn's movie seemed to break new ground and not just in it's depiction of violence. It had a lyrical intensity that belonged more to the French New Wave, (and at one time Truffaut's name was associated with the project), and, in that it took back to the American cinema the trappings that the French had originally borrowed in films like "A Bout De Soufflé" and "Shoot the Pianist", seemed to square the circle.
In the intervening years it has fallen somewhat out of fashion. It now almost seems quaintly old-fashioned, it's form more classically structured and narratively driven than might first appeared. But there are virtues that have largely been overlooked. Like "The Graduate" which came out in the same year, it is a young person's film yet it burns with a fierce intelligence that is conspicuously absent from similar films today. I suppose you could say the film has a pop-art sensibility, (a close-up of Faye Dunaway's face, lips burning bright red, could come from a Lichtenstein poster), and its cast seem unnaturally young, (only Beatty had established a persona for himself at the time; the others had yet to establish a reputation), but they became stars because of it. (Gang members Parsons and Pollard didn't make the leap; they were character actors from the start). Arguably you could say Beatty, Dunaway, Hackman, Parsons and Pollard were never to better their work here. They may have equalled it but their performances were definitive.
Arthur Penn, too, was never to make another movie as good. The film's extraordinary critical and popular success gave Penn the freedom to tackle 'weightier' material, but "Little Big Man" and "Georgia's Friends" now seem misguided attempts at solemnity, while even his brilliant western "The Missouri Breaks" seems to succeed more for it's oddness rather than it's originality. Perhaps "Bonnie and Clyde" was a one-off though it did spawn an awful lot of break-neck thrillers and up-dated film-noirs, and was more responsible for the baby-boom in movies in the seventies than "Easy Rider" which followed it two years later. It remains a film ripe for reassessment.
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