This movie is so great.
|"The strangest damned gang you ever heard of. They're young. They're in love. They rob banks." –tagline|
Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway are fantastic as the legendary bank robbing lovers Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. Their smash-hit chemistry (beating other famous couples like Edward & Bella all to hell) is only bested by their likability –or, perhaps, how attractive they are. I am honestly not embarrassed to say that I find them amazingly charming, even considering their felonious career as bank robbers.
Bonnie & Clyde, Arthur Penn’s greatest film, was released in 1967, and rivaled such classics as The Graduate and In the Heat of the Night at the Oscars (the latter being the winner.) Much like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate, this was Faye Dunaway’s first real role, and Warren Beatty’s first great role (or, at least, the first that didn’t involve him as a “spoiled, popular, rich kid with girl problems,” of which he has a considerable list).
Now, as somewhat-romanticized as this film was, I truly felt that Penn captured certain realistic elements that the Barrow Gang probably -and certainly- went through during their career in bank robbing.
It was believable that Bonnie would leave her home, her mamma and her “life” to go with the bold and adventurous Clyde, since the blandness of her job and tiresome nature of her hometown were well expressed. It captured the immature interest in each other that they were famous for, which quickly turned into a passion great enough to withstand the looming threat of life in prison. It portrayed the nit-picky arguments between themselves and the later members of the Gang to an almost painful extent, but certainly with good reason. It showed the boldness, rashness, and almost delusion which kept them robbing, and how unprofessional they were.
Most importantly, Penn didn't go out of his way to make the viewer feel things for the characters, or sympathize too much. You certainly do, but I felt he kept close enough to the reality of the situation as to remind you that these people truly weren't very nice.
|Alongside the talented Beatty and gorgeous Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, and Michael J. Pollard make up the Barrow Gang.|
After Bonnie and Clyde partner up and begin their bank-robbing career together, they realize that they need a driver and some extra help. Enter Clyde’s brother, his wife, and the young C.W. Moss. Now, you need to realize that Bonnie and Clyde are the kind of characters that you secretly hope will make it, despite their actions and how obvious it is that they won’t. So, when these other people get involved and things start to get complicated, the film becomes a nightmare of hidden stress on their behalf.
Outwardly, of course, you make sure that your law-abiding fellow viewers know that you’re on the “good side” by making comments about the debauchery of bank robbing and unmarried sex, even though you know they're thinking the same thing as you!
|That, folks, is a real woman.|
I don’t know much about the real-life couple, but I know enough to know that I like them a lot, despite their selfishness in the way of money-making during the Depression. Much like John Dillinger, another bank-robber at large during the Depression [see Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp], you find yourself feeling confusingly sad and hopeful that these criminals will make it. Of course, this could be due to Hollywood’s passion for making vigilantes and criminals as likable as possible (they usually succeed, as even Hannibal Lector is one of most likable characters I’ve ever seen) but even after doing a little research and looking through old footage and photographs, you know damn well that even the real life people may be difficult not to like.
|Clyde is a badass. Look at that gun!|
In the end, then, Bonnie & Clyde is a film for the ages. It makes you feel guilty, charmed, sad, impressed, annoyed, pleased, stressed, interested, hopeful, excited, and regretful, all at once. The acting is brilliant all round, the scenes are well cut, the story moves smoothly, and if you’ll ever like “bad” characters in your life, you’ll certainly like these ones.
Truly, this is a film worth watching.
|Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty|
|Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow|