Bonnie and Clyde


1h 51m 1967
Bonnie and Clyde

Brief Synopsis

The legendary bank robbers run riot in the South of the 1930s.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Crime
Biography
Period
Release Date
Jan 1967
Premiere Information
New York opening: 13 Aug 1967
Production Company
Tatira--Hiller Productions
Distribution Company
Warner Bros.--Seven Arts, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Texas, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 51m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

During the depression in the early 1930's, Bonnie Parker meets Clyde Barrow when he tries to steal her mother's car. Intrigued by his brazen manner and bored with her job as a waitress, she decides to become his partner in crime. Together they stage a series of amateur holdups that provide them with excitement but little monetary reward. Eventually they take on C. W. Moss, a dimwitted garage mechanic, who serves as their getaway driver. Finally they are joined by Clyde's brother Buck, recently released from prison, and his wife, Blanche, a whining preacher's daughter. As they add bank robbery and murder to their list of crimes, the quintet quickly becomes the object of statewide manhunts. While holed up in a rented apartment in Joplin, Missouri, they make the first of their incredible escapes from the police. Fascinated by the legendary reputation growing around them, they brag about their exploits, take pictures of each other, and, on one occasion, force a Texas Ranger to pose with them. Through it all a love relationship develops between Bonnie and Clyde that endures despite Clyde's impotence. After a visit with Bonnie's mother, the gang is surrounded in Dexter, Iowa. Buck dies with half of his face shot away, Blanche is blinded and captured, and Bonnie is wounded in the shoulder. The three survivors find a temporary hideout with C. W.'s father in a Louisiana town, and there Bonnie and Clyde finally consummate their love. Bonnie recovers from her wounds, and they plan to move on again; but C. W.'s father, hoping to lighten his son's punishment, has cooperated with the police in setting a trap. In May of 1934, Bonnie and Clyde ride into a police ambush and die as their bodies are riddled with a thousand rounds of ammunition.

Photo Collections

Bonnie and Clyde - Publicity Still
Here is a photo taken to help publicize Warner Bros' Bonnie and Clyde (1967), starring Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Gene Hackman. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.

Videos

Movie Clip

Bonnie and Clyde (1967) - Keep Your Eyes Open Texan Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) who just caught newly-paroled Clyde Barrow (producer Warren Beatty) trying to steal her mother's car, is willing to watch as he proposes to impress her, early in director Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde, 1967.
Bonnie And Clyde (1967) - Isn't That Your Car, Eugene? The happenstance appearance of Gene Wilder and Evans Evans as Eugene and Velma, interrupted by the Barrow gang (producer Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Michael J. Pollard as Clyde, Bonnie, Buck, Blanche and C.W.) who need another car, in Arthur Penn’s landmark Bonnie And Clyde, 1967.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967) - We Rob Banks Waking up in a foreclosed Texas farm-house, only days after they first met, Bonnie (Faye Dunaway) is getting shooting lessons from Clyde (Warren Beatty) when the ex-owner shows up, early in Arthur Penn's Bonnie And Clyde, 1967.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967) - You A Good Driver? Having just fled a robbery, Bonnie (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde (Warren Beatty) meet gas station attendant C.W. Moss (Michael J. Pollard) and become a gang, in Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde, 1967.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967) - Frank Here's A Texas Ranger! Title characters (Faye Dunaway, Warren Beatty) with brother Buck (Gene Hackman), C-W (Michael J Pollard) and Blanche (Estelle Parsons) are fortunate to turn the tables on Texas lawman Frank Hamer (Denver Pyle), an inflated version of a real event, in Bonnie And Clyde, 1967.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967) - Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde With some time alone as they hide out, Bonnie (Faye Dunaway) charms Clyde (Warren Beatty) with a poem she's written, near the end in Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde, 1967.
Bonnie And Clyde (1967) - Let Me Get The Kodak! Big event for the Barrow family as older brother and fellow ex-con Buck (Gene Hackman), with wife Blanche (Estelle Parsons) joins the newly notorious Clyde (producer Warren Beatty) and Bonnie (Faye Dunaway), wheel-man C.W. (Michael J. Pollard) a little behind the social curve, in Arthur Penn’s Bonnie And Clyde, 1967.

Hosted Intro

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Crime
Biography
Period
Release Date
Jan 1967
Premiere Information
New York opening: 13 Aug 1967
Production Company
Tatira--Hiller Productions
Distribution Company
Warner Bros.--Seven Arts, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Texas, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 51m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Award Wins

Best Cinematography

1967

Best Supporting Actress

1967
Estelle Parsons

Award Nominations

Best Actor

1967
Warren Beatty

Best Actress

1967
Faye Dunaway

Best Costume Design

1967
Theadora Van Runkle

Best Director

1967
Arthur Penn

Best Picture

1967

Best Supporting Actor

1967
Gene Hackman

Best Supporting Actor

1967
Michael J Pollard

Best Writing, Screenplay

1968

Articles

The Essentials - Bonnie and Clyde


BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967)


SYNOPSIS

Bonnie Parker feels an excitement she's never known when Clyde Barrow enters her life (they meet while he's stealing her mother's car!). Almost immediately, Bonnie abandons her dreams of becoming a movie star and takes off on a whirlwind tour of Depression-era Texas, where they become legendary bank robbers. As their fame grows, so does their gang with the addition of gas station attendant C.W. Moss and Clyde's brother and sister-in-law. But with their growing notoriety as modern-day Robin Hoods and murderers comes the increasing threat of a fatal run-in with the law. After a heart-breaking visit with Bonnie's family, in which she realizes that she literally can't go home again, they are caught in a series of ever-more-deadly ambushes that decimate the Barrow Gang and threaten to end the legend of Bonnie and Clyde.

Director: Arthur Penn
Producer: Warren Beatty
Screenplay: David Newman, Robert Benton
Cinematography: Burnett Guffey
Editing: Dede Allen
Art Direction: Dean Tavoularis
Music: Charles Strouse
Cast: Warren Beatty (Clyde Barrow), Faye Dunaway (Bonnie Parker), Michael J. Pollard (C.W. Moss), Gene Hackman (Buck Barrow), Estelle Parsons (Blanche Barrow), Denver Pyle (Frank Hamer), Dub Taylor (Ivan Moss), Evans Evans (Velma Davis), Gene Wilder (Eugene Grizzard).
C-118m.

Why BONNIE AND CLYDE is Essential

Film historians credit Bonnie and Clyde with inaugurating a new era in American film in the late sixties which resulted in a Hollywood renaissance that reached its peak in the mid-seventies. Suddenly directors were the center of the American filmmaking industry, and several studios, including Warner Bros. and Columbia, responded by creating low-budget production units dedicated to producing the work of exciting new talents like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Peter Bogdanovich. To many, this is one of the most exciting periods in American film history. After more than a decade of amazing creativity, the movement came to an end with the rise of box-office blockbusters like Jaws (1975) and Star Wars (1977) and the colossal box office failure of director Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate (1980).

With its glorification of a team of bank robbers and depiction of the lawmen on their trail as villains, Bonnie and Clyde captured the imaginations of the counter-culture audience in the late '60s as no film had done before. Some historians credit it with awakening film executives to the existence of a youth audience that would patronize films that reflected their own anti-establishment values.

In a December 1967 article in Time magazine, "The New Cinema: Violence...Sex...Art," critic Stefan Kanfer hailed Bonnie and Clyde as the harbinger of a new type of filmmaking characterized by a disregard for conventional plotting, the jarring mixture of comedy and tragedy, sexual boldness and an ironic approach to moral issues.

Bonnie and Clyde set new standards for screen violence. It was one of the first films to show blood splattering from bullet wounds and capture the body's physical reaction to being shot (particularly in the film's shocking finale, in which Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow jerk around like marionettes when hit with a barrage of bullets). Where previous films had rarely shown shooter and victim in the same frame, Bonnie and Clyde presented the results of violence in graphic detail. In one indelible image, a bank teller jumps on their running board as the gang escapes after a robbery, only to be shot in the face.

With Bonnie and Clyde, Warren Beatty became a new kind of star-producer, packaging his own film as a way of taking control of his career and insuring the artistic integrity of his work. Although he was derided for producing the film before it came out, afterwards dozens of other stars imitated him. Today, the star-producer is a fact of Hollywood life.

Like The Graduate, which came out the same year, Bonnie and Clyde sparked a revolution in film casting. Although stars Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were both highly attractive, the film's supporting cast was chosen for their unglamorous but individualistic appearance. Actors like Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons and Gene Wilder in Bonnie and Clyde and Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate changed the face of American film as they inspired producers to search out more authentic-looking American types. And costumer Theadora Van Runkle's clothes for the main characters became a fashion craze after the film's release.

by Frank Miller
The Essentials - Bonnie And Clyde

The Essentials - Bonnie and Clyde

BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967) SYNOPSIS Bonnie Parker feels an excitement she's never known when Clyde Barrow enters her life (they meet while he's stealing her mother's car!). Almost immediately, Bonnie abandons her dreams of becoming a movie star and takes off on a whirlwind tour of Depression-era Texas, where they become legendary bank robbers. As their fame grows, so does their gang with the addition of gas station attendant C.W. Moss and Clyde's brother and sister-in-law. But with their growing notoriety as modern-day Robin Hoods and murderers comes the increasing threat of a fatal run-in with the law. After a heart-breaking visit with Bonnie's family, in which she realizes that she literally can't go home again, they are caught in a series of ever-more-deadly ambushes that decimate the Barrow Gang and threaten to end the legend of Bonnie and Clyde. Director: Arthur Penn Producer: Warren Beatty Screenplay: David Newman, Robert Benton Cinematography: Burnett Guffey Editing: Dede Allen Art Direction: Dean Tavoularis Music: Charles Strouse Cast: Warren Beatty (Clyde Barrow), Faye Dunaway (Bonnie Parker), Michael J. Pollard (C.W. Moss), Gene Hackman (Buck Barrow), Estelle Parsons (Blanche Barrow), Denver Pyle (Frank Hamer), Dub Taylor (Ivan Moss), Evans Evans (Velma Davis), Gene Wilder (Eugene Grizzard). C-118m. Why BONNIE AND CLYDE is Essential Film historians credit Bonnie and Clyde with inaugurating a new era in American film in the late sixties which resulted in a Hollywood renaissance that reached its peak in the mid-seventies. Suddenly directors were the center of the American filmmaking industry, and several studios, including Warner Bros. and Columbia, responded by creating low-budget production units dedicated to producing the work of exciting new talents like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Peter Bogdanovich. To many, this is one of the most exciting periods in American film history. After more than a decade of amazing creativity, the movement came to an end with the rise of box-office blockbusters like Jaws (1975) and Star Wars (1977) and the colossal box office failure of director Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate (1980). With its glorification of a team of bank robbers and depiction of the lawmen on their trail as villains, Bonnie and Clyde captured the imaginations of the counter-culture audience in the late '60s as no film had done before. Some historians credit it with awakening film executives to the existence of a youth audience that would patronize films that reflected their own anti-establishment values. In a December 1967 article in Time magazine, "The New Cinema: Violence...Sex...Art," critic Stefan Kanfer hailed Bonnie and Clyde as the harbinger of a new type of filmmaking characterized by a disregard for conventional plotting, the jarring mixture of comedy and tragedy, sexual boldness and an ironic approach to moral issues. Bonnie and Clyde set new standards for screen violence. It was one of the first films to show blood splattering from bullet wounds and capture the body's physical reaction to being shot (particularly in the film's shocking finale, in which Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow jerk around like marionettes when hit with a barrage of bullets). Where previous films had rarely shown shooter and victim in the same frame, Bonnie and Clyde presented the results of violence in graphic detail. In one indelible image, a bank teller jumps on their running board as the gang escapes after a robbery, only to be shot in the face. With Bonnie and Clyde, Warren Beatty became a new kind of star-producer, packaging his own film as a way of taking control of his career and insuring the artistic integrity of his work. Although he was derided for producing the film before it came out, afterwards dozens of other stars imitated him. Today, the star-producer is a fact of Hollywood life. Like The Graduate, which came out the same year, Bonnie and Clyde sparked a revolution in film casting. Although stars Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were both highly attractive, the film's supporting cast was chosen for their unglamorous but individualistic appearance. Actors like Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons and Gene Wilder in Bonnie and Clyde and Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate changed the face of American film as they inspired producers to search out more authentic-looking American types. And costumer Theadora Van Runkle's clothes for the main characters became a fashion craze after the film's release. by Frank Miller

Pop Culture 101 - Bonnie and Clyde


Earlier films inspired by Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow include You Only Live Once (1937), starring Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney; Gun Crazy (1949), with John Dall and Peggy Cummins; and The Bonnie Parker Story (1958), with Dorothy Provine and Jack Hogan. The story also inspired Edward Anderson's novel Thieves Like Us, which was filmed in 1949 as They Live by Night, with Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell, and re-made by Robert Altman in 1974, under its original title, with Keith Carradine and Shelley Duvall.

A year after Bonnie and Clyde's release, American International Pictures attempted to cash in on its success with Killers Three, starring Robert Walker, Jr. and Diane Varsi as married killers on the run with criminal cohort Dick Clark. The film played mostly in drive-ins.

Bonnie and Clyde was heavily influenced by the films of the French New Wave, particularly Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, both of whom were approached about directing the feature before Arthur Penn signed on. Screenwriters David Newman and Robert Benton had been inspired to write the screenplay after seeing Godard's Breathless (1959), while their repeated viewings of Truffaut's Jules and Jim (1962) influenced both the film's abrupt shifts in tone from comic to serious and the psychology of Bonnie Parker's character.

Bonnie and Clyde triggered a fashion revolution. It single-handedly brought berets back into style and triggered the move from the mini-skirts of the mid-'60s to the maxi.

Like the stars at Andy Warhol's Factory, Bonnie and Clyde, as depicted in the film, were famous for being famous. In fact, Bonnie and Clyde was one of the first pictures to deal with America's fascination with celebrity.

For many members of the American counter-culture, Bonnie and Clyde was a rallying cry. The main characters' bank robbing was seen as a form of revolution, while the film's moral paradox, in which the criminals were more sympathetic than their law-abiding killers, seemed to legitimize violence against the establishment.

The film's soundtrack brought country bluegrass mainstream popularity. In particular, it boosted demand for the recordings of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, featured on the soundtrack playing "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," "My Cabin in Carolina," "Bouquet in Heaven," "My Little Girl in Tennessee," "Why Don't You Tell Me So?" and "No Mom or Dad."

by Frank Miller

Pop Culture 101 - Bonnie and Clyde

Earlier films inspired by Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow include You Only Live Once (1937), starring Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney; Gun Crazy (1949), with John Dall and Peggy Cummins; and The Bonnie Parker Story (1958), with Dorothy Provine and Jack Hogan. The story also inspired Edward Anderson's novel Thieves Like Us, which was filmed in 1949 as They Live by Night, with Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell, and re-made by Robert Altman in 1974, under its original title, with Keith Carradine and Shelley Duvall. A year after Bonnie and Clyde's release, American International Pictures attempted to cash in on its success with Killers Three, starring Robert Walker, Jr. and Diane Varsi as married killers on the run with criminal cohort Dick Clark. The film played mostly in drive-ins. Bonnie and Clyde was heavily influenced by the films of the French New Wave, particularly Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, both of whom were approached about directing the feature before Arthur Penn signed on. Screenwriters David Newman and Robert Benton had been inspired to write the screenplay after seeing Godard's Breathless (1959), while their repeated viewings of Truffaut's Jules and Jim (1962) influenced both the film's abrupt shifts in tone from comic to serious and the psychology of Bonnie Parker's character. Bonnie and Clyde triggered a fashion revolution. It single-handedly brought berets back into style and triggered the move from the mini-skirts of the mid-'60s to the maxi. Like the stars at Andy Warhol's Factory, Bonnie and Clyde, as depicted in the film, were famous for being famous. In fact, Bonnie and Clyde was one of the first pictures to deal with America's fascination with celebrity. For many members of the American counter-culture, Bonnie and Clyde was a rallying cry. The main characters' bank robbing was seen as a form of revolution, while the film's moral paradox, in which the criminals were more sympathetic than their law-abiding killers, seemed to legitimize violence against the establishment. The film's soundtrack brought country bluegrass mainstream popularity. In particular, it boosted demand for the recordings of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, featured on the soundtrack playing "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," "My Cabin in Carolina," "Bouquet in Heaven," "My Little Girl in Tennessee," "Why Don't You Tell Me So?" and "No Mom or Dad." by Frank Miller

Trivia - Bonnie and Clyde - Trivia: BONNIE AND CLYDE


Many scenes in Bonnie and Clyde were inspired by events in the careers of other notorious outlaws of the Depression years. As Clyde Barrow does in the film, John Dillinger once allowed a farmer who had just made a withdrawal to keep his cash during a bank robbery. The sequence in which dispossessed farmers treat the wounded Bonnie and Clyde with awe and respect mirrored the popularity of "Pretty Boy" Floyd, who used to burn unrecorded mortgages at the banks he robbed.

Michael J. Pollard's character, C.W. Moss, was a composite of two members of the Barrow Gang, William Daniel "W.D." Jones and Henry Methvin. The latter betrayed them to the law, helping to set up their fatal ambush.

The real Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed by the law in Gibland, La., on May 23, 1934. The car they were driving was riddled with 187 shots, catching the pair by surprise. Clyde was only wearing his socks at the time, while Bonnie was eating a sandwich.

The legend of Bonnie and Clyde endured at many of the locations where the film was shot. One extra had witnessed one of the gang's robberies when she was four in the very bank where her scene was shot. Other extras were actually relatives of the Barrow Gang members.

Faye Dunaway likes to include little bits inspired by her favorite actresses in many of her performances. For one scene in Bonnie and Clyde she walked down the street swinging her purse the same way Joanne Woodward had in The Long, Hot Summer (1958). Later in the film, when Bonnie poses for photographs while smoking a cigar, Dunaway put it in the middle of her mouth rather than the side in imitation of Jeanne Moreau in The Lovers (1958).

Dallas-born Morgan Fairchild got her start in films as Faye Dunaway's stand-in during location shooting in Texas.

Cut from the film was a more violent version of Clyde's attack on the butcher whose store he robs and Bonnie's attempt to seduce C.W. A still from the latter scene can be found on the DVD version of the film.

When the film premiered triumphantly in Paris, Dunaway received a box full of berets from the inhabitants of a small village near the Pyrenees that specialized in making them. Thanks to the film, the demand for berets had risen from 5,000 to 12,000 a week.

Although he won an Oscar® for shooting Bonnie and Clyde, cinematographer Burnett Guffey hated his work on the film so much he claimed making the picture had given him an ulcer.

The film marked the start of a long association between director Arthur Penn and editor Dede Allen, who worked on his next four films. She also edited and executive produced Reds (1981), which brought Warren Beatty an Oscar® for Best Director.

Visitors to Whiskey Pete's hotel and casino, 20 miles outside of Las Vegas, can see Clyde Barrow's bullet-ridden shirt and the car in which he and Bonnie were killed. The prop car used for the film is on display at Planet Hollywood in Dallas.

Famous Quotes from BONNIE AND CLYDE

"They're young, they're in love...and they kill people." - Tagline for Bonnie and Clyde.

"This here's Miss Bonnie Parker. I'm Clyde Barrow. We rob banks." - Warren Beatty as Clyde Barrow.

"I earned my share same as everybody. Well, I coulda got killed same as everybody. And I'm wanted by the law same as everybody. I'm a nervous wreck, and that's the truth. I have to take sass from Miss Bonnie Parker all the time. I deserve mine." - Estelle Parsons as Blanche Barrow.

"You know what. When we started out, I thought we was really goin' somewhere. This is it. We're just goin', huh?" - Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker.)

"You've heard the story of Jesse James,
Of how he lived and died.
If you're still in need
Of something to read,
Here's the story of Bonnie and Clyde.

Now Bonnie and Clyde are the Barrow gang.
I'm sure you all have read
How they rob and steal
And those who squeal
Are usually found dyin' or dead.

They call them cold-hearted killers.
They say they are heartless and mean.
But I say this with pride,
That I once knew Clyde
When he was honest and upright and clean.

But the law fooled around,
Kept takin' him down
And lockin' him up in a cell,
Till he said to me: "I'll never be free,
So I'll meet a few of them in Hell."

If a policeman is killed in Dallas,
And they have no clue to guide,
If they can't find a fiend
They just wipe their slate clean
And hang it on Bonnie and Clyde.

If they try to act like citizens
And rent them a nice little flat,
About the third night
They're invited to fight
By a sub-guns' rat-a-tat-tat.

Some day, they'll go down together.
They'll bury them side by side.
To a few, it'll be grief,
To the law, a relief,
But it's death for Bonnie and Clyde." - Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker, reading a poem attributed to the character.

"You know what you done there? You told my story. You told my whole story right there, right there. One time, I told you I was gonna make you somebody. That's what you done for me. You made me somebody they're gonna remember." - Warren Beatty as Clyde Barker, responding to Bonnie's poem.

Compiled by Frank Miller

Trivia - Bonnie and Clyde - Trivia: BONNIE AND CLYDE

Many scenes in Bonnie and Clyde were inspired by events in the careers of other notorious outlaws of the Depression years. As Clyde Barrow does in the film, John Dillinger once allowed a farmer who had just made a withdrawal to keep his cash during a bank robbery. The sequence in which dispossessed farmers treat the wounded Bonnie and Clyde with awe and respect mirrored the popularity of "Pretty Boy" Floyd, who used to burn unrecorded mortgages at the banks he robbed. Michael J. Pollard's character, C.W. Moss, was a composite of two members of the Barrow Gang, William Daniel "W.D." Jones and Henry Methvin. The latter betrayed them to the law, helping to set up their fatal ambush. The real Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed by the law in Gibland, La., on May 23, 1934. The car they were driving was riddled with 187 shots, catching the pair by surprise. Clyde was only wearing his socks at the time, while Bonnie was eating a sandwich. The legend of Bonnie and Clyde endured at many of the locations where the film was shot. One extra had witnessed one of the gang's robberies when she was four in the very bank where her scene was shot. Other extras were actually relatives of the Barrow Gang members. Faye Dunaway likes to include little bits inspired by her favorite actresses in many of her performances. For one scene in Bonnie and Clyde she walked down the street swinging her purse the same way Joanne Woodward had in The Long, Hot Summer (1958). Later in the film, when Bonnie poses for photographs while smoking a cigar, Dunaway put it in the middle of her mouth rather than the side in imitation of Jeanne Moreau in The Lovers (1958). Dallas-born Morgan Fairchild got her start in films as Faye Dunaway's stand-in during location shooting in Texas. Cut from the film was a more violent version of Clyde's attack on the butcher whose store he robs and Bonnie's attempt to seduce C.W. A still from the latter scene can be found on the DVD version of the film. When the film premiered triumphantly in Paris, Dunaway received a box full of berets from the inhabitants of a small village near the Pyrenees that specialized in making them. Thanks to the film, the demand for berets had risen from 5,000 to 12,000 a week. Although he won an Oscar® for shooting Bonnie and Clyde, cinematographer Burnett Guffey hated his work on the film so much he claimed making the picture had given him an ulcer. The film marked the start of a long association between director Arthur Penn and editor Dede Allen, who worked on his next four films. She also edited and executive produced Reds (1981), which brought Warren Beatty an Oscar® for Best Director. Visitors to Whiskey Pete's hotel and casino, 20 miles outside of Las Vegas, can see Clyde Barrow's bullet-ridden shirt and the car in which he and Bonnie were killed. The prop car used for the film is on display at Planet Hollywood in Dallas. Famous Quotes from BONNIE AND CLYDE "They're young, they're in love...and they kill people." - Tagline for Bonnie and Clyde. "This here's Miss Bonnie Parker. I'm Clyde Barrow. We rob banks." - Warren Beatty as Clyde Barrow. "I earned my share same as everybody. Well, I coulda got killed same as everybody. And I'm wanted by the law same as everybody. I'm a nervous wreck, and that's the truth. I have to take sass from Miss Bonnie Parker all the time. I deserve mine." - Estelle Parsons as Blanche Barrow. "You know what. When we started out, I thought we was really goin' somewhere. This is it. We're just goin', huh?" - Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker.) "You've heard the story of Jesse James, Of how he lived and died. If you're still in need Of something to read, Here's the story of Bonnie and Clyde. Now Bonnie and Clyde are the Barrow gang. I'm sure you all have read How they rob and steal And those who squeal Are usually found dyin' or dead. They call them cold-hearted killers. They say they are heartless and mean. But I say this with pride, That I once knew Clyde When he was honest and upright and clean. But the law fooled around, Kept takin' him down And lockin' him up in a cell, Till he said to me: "I'll never be free, So I'll meet a few of them in Hell." If a policeman is killed in Dallas, And they have no clue to guide, If they can't find a fiend They just wipe their slate clean And hang it on Bonnie and Clyde. If they try to act like citizens And rent them a nice little flat, About the third night They're invited to fight By a sub-guns' rat-a-tat-tat. Some day, they'll go down together. They'll bury them side by side. To a few, it'll be grief, To the law, a relief, But it's death for Bonnie and Clyde." - Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker, reading a poem attributed to the character. "You know what you done there? You told my story. You told my whole story right there, right there. One time, I told you I was gonna make you somebody. That's what you done for me. You made me somebody they're gonna remember." - Warren Beatty as Clyde Barker, responding to Bonnie's poem. Compiled by Frank Miller

The Big Idea - Bonnie and Clyde


Robert Benton and David Newman got the idea for Bonnie and Clyde when they were both working for Esquire magazine in 1963. They had fallen in love with the work of French New Wave directors Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard and realized they wanted to follow in their footsteps. Then they read John Toland's The Dillinger Days, an account of the great outlaws of the Depression. In particular, they were fascinated with the stories about Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, whom Benton had heard about as a child in East Texas.

Benton and Newman worked on the script late at night while listening to Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs' recording of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," which would eventually become part of the film's score.

After finishing the script, the writers sent it to Truffaut, their first choice to direct. He was interested, but eventually passed on the film, suggesting they offer it to Godard, who also turned them down.

When the script was making the rounds of Hollywood studios, the biggest objection was a sequence in which Clyde Barrow invites C.W. Moss to join him in a sexual menage a trois with Bonnie. The suggestion that Barrow might have been gay was inspired by the sexual revolution of the '60s, but it was too much for most studio executives to handle.

Warren Beatty's career was in the doldrums when he decided to try producing his own film. His first experience came with What's New, Pussycat? (1965), a film whose title was inspired by one of his favorite ways of greeting female telephone callers. During scripting, however, his role kept getting smaller. When co-producer Charles Feldman broke a promise not to put his protegee, model-turned-actress Capucine, in a leading role, Beatty walked on the film, which went on to become a big hit. Determined to keep himself from being edged out again, Beatty decided that he had to produce his own films. Ironically, Woody Allen, who wrote What's New, Pussycat? and made his screen debut in it (his role kept shrinking as Feldman decided to showcase other performers), also decided to produce his own work after that experience.

Beatty learned about Bonnie and Clyde when he and then-girlfriend Leslie Caron had dinner with French director Fran¿s Truffaut in an effort to convince him to direct a film biography of Edith Piaf for Caron. Truffaut passed on that project, then suggested that a script he had just received had a great part for Beatty. The role was Clyde Barrow.

When Beatty called Benton and Newman about reading the script, they didn't believe it was really him. When he showed up a few minutes later to pick up the script, they were shocked. Half an hour later, Beatty called again to say he wanted to make the film. They warned him to hold off until he'd read the entire script, including the menage involving Bonnie, Clyde and C.W. Beatty called again after he'd finished the script, to say he still wanted to do it. He optioned the script for $7,500. When the film went into production, he paid the writers $75,000.

Beatty had worked with director Arthur Penn on Mickey One, a small, surrealistic film that had failed at the box office in 1965. But Benton and Newman thought the film had a distinct European-American flavor and suggested they offer Bonnie and Clyde to him. Penn's career was at a standstill after the failure of Mickey One. He had just been fired from The Train (1964) by that film's star, Burt Lancaster, and shortly after that, producer Sam Spiegel seized control of The Chase, (1966) another film Penn was directing. Naturally, he was depressed and turned down Bonnie and Clyde at first, complaining that he didn't like the script. Beatty almost had to browbeat Penn into taking the job.

Beatty then pitched the project to Warner Bros. According to legend, he offered to kiss studio head Jack Warner's shoes to get him to finance the picture, though Beatty denies it. Although the studio had little faith in the film, his offer to make it for a small salary and 40 percent of the gross made it seem like a safe investment. The deal would make him extremely wealthy.

Shortly before filming began, Penn tried to back out again. Beatty got him to stick with the project by bringing in writer Robert Towne to re-write the script. His contributions included moving some scenes around for greater dramatic impact. The comic sequence in which the gang kidnaps a young man and his fiancee, only to let them go in a panic when they learn he's a mortician, was originally set near the end. Towne moved it up to just before the reunion with Bonnie's mother to deepen the sense of foreboding in that scene. He also added a line at the end of the reunion scene. When Clyde suggests that he and Bonnie could move closer to her family after they retire from robbing banks, Towne had her mother say, "You try to live three miles from me, and you won't live long, honey."

Over Benton and Newman's objections, Towne also cut the homosexual angle from the script. Instead, he made Clyde impotent, suggesting that his violent behavior grew out of his sexual inadequacy.

by Frank Miller

The Big Idea - Bonnie and Clyde

Robert Benton and David Newman got the idea for Bonnie and Clyde when they were both working for Esquire magazine in 1963. They had fallen in love with the work of French New Wave directors Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard and realized they wanted to follow in their footsteps. Then they read John Toland's The Dillinger Days, an account of the great outlaws of the Depression. In particular, they were fascinated with the stories about Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, whom Benton had heard about as a child in East Texas. Benton and Newman worked on the script late at night while listening to Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs' recording of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," which would eventually become part of the film's score. After finishing the script, the writers sent it to Truffaut, their first choice to direct. He was interested, but eventually passed on the film, suggesting they offer it to Godard, who also turned them down. When the script was making the rounds of Hollywood studios, the biggest objection was a sequence in which Clyde Barrow invites C.W. Moss to join him in a sexual menage a trois with Bonnie. The suggestion that Barrow might have been gay was inspired by the sexual revolution of the '60s, but it was too much for most studio executives to handle. Warren Beatty's career was in the doldrums when he decided to try producing his own film. His first experience came with What's New, Pussycat? (1965), a film whose title was inspired by one of his favorite ways of greeting female telephone callers. During scripting, however, his role kept getting smaller. When co-producer Charles Feldman broke a promise not to put his protegee, model-turned-actress Capucine, in a leading role, Beatty walked on the film, which went on to become a big hit. Determined to keep himself from being edged out again, Beatty decided that he had to produce his own films. Ironically, Woody Allen, who wrote What's New, Pussycat? and made his screen debut in it (his role kept shrinking as Feldman decided to showcase other performers), also decided to produce his own work after that experience. Beatty learned about Bonnie and Clyde when he and then-girlfriend Leslie Caron had dinner with French director Fran¿s Truffaut in an effort to convince him to direct a film biography of Edith Piaf for Caron. Truffaut passed on that project, then suggested that a script he had just received had a great part for Beatty. The role was Clyde Barrow. When Beatty called Benton and Newman about reading the script, they didn't believe it was really him. When he showed up a few minutes later to pick up the script, they were shocked. Half an hour later, Beatty called again to say he wanted to make the film. They warned him to hold off until he'd read the entire script, including the menage involving Bonnie, Clyde and C.W. Beatty called again after he'd finished the script, to say he still wanted to do it. He optioned the script for $7,500. When the film went into production, he paid the writers $75,000. Beatty had worked with director Arthur Penn on Mickey One, a small, surrealistic film that had failed at the box office in 1965. But Benton and Newman thought the film had a distinct European-American flavor and suggested they offer Bonnie and Clyde to him. Penn's career was at a standstill after the failure of Mickey One. He had just been fired from The Train (1964) by that film's star, Burt Lancaster, and shortly after that, producer Sam Spiegel seized control of The Chase, (1966) another film Penn was directing. Naturally, he was depressed and turned down Bonnie and Clyde at first, complaining that he didn't like the script. Beatty almost had to browbeat Penn into taking the job. Beatty then pitched the project to Warner Bros. According to legend, he offered to kiss studio head Jack Warner's shoes to get him to finance the picture, though Beatty denies it. Although the studio had little faith in the film, his offer to make it for a small salary and 40 percent of the gross made it seem like a safe investment. The deal would make him extremely wealthy. Shortly before filming began, Penn tried to back out again. Beatty got him to stick with the project by bringing in writer Robert Towne to re-write the script. His contributions included moving some scenes around for greater dramatic impact. The comic sequence in which the gang kidnaps a young man and his fiancee, only to let them go in a panic when they learn he's a mortician, was originally set near the end. Towne moved it up to just before the reunion with Bonnie's mother to deepen the sense of foreboding in that scene. He also added a line at the end of the reunion scene. When Clyde suggests that he and Bonnie could move closer to her family after they retire from robbing banks, Towne had her mother say, "You try to live three miles from me, and you won't live long, honey." Over Benton and Newman's objections, Towne also cut the homosexual angle from the script. Instead, he made Clyde impotent, suggesting that his violent behavior grew out of his sexual inadequacy. by Frank Miller

Behind the Camera - Bonnie and Clyde


Originally, Warren Beatty hoped to cast French actress Leslie Caron, his girlfriend at the time, as Bonnie Parker. When he decided she wasn't right for the role, it led to the end of their relationship.

Other actresses considered for the female lead included Natalie Wood, Jane Fonda, Carol Lynley, Tuesday Weld and even Beatty's sister, Shirley MacLaine. Weld was almost set to do the film when she learned she was pregnant and decided she couldn't handle the location shoot in Texas.

Faye Dunaway had tried to get an interview with Arthur Penn when he was directing The Chase, but was rebuffed by a casting director who didn't think she had the right face for the movies. When Penn saw her in scenes from her first picture (The Happening, 1967) before its release, he decided to let her read for the role of Bonnie Parker.

In planning her performance, Faye Dunaway wanted to wear slacks as Bonnie Parker, since the character would need to move freely to race in and out of getaway cars. In contrast, designer Theadora Van Runkle suggested a more glamorous look with long skirts, a beret and a short jacket. The "Bonnie and Clyde Look" became a fashion rage, and for years afterwards Dunaway would insist on having Van Runkle design her costumes.

Beatty and Penn rounded out the cast with actors they had worked with during their days on Broadway, in live television and at the Actor's Studio. Beatty had been impressed with Gene Hackman -- who played Clyde's brother, Buck Barrow -- when they had worked together on Lilith in 1964.

Beatty fought to shoot the film on locations around Texas, partly to create an authentic image of the Barrow Gang's exploits, but also to avoid interference from Warner Bros. executives.

Writer Robert Towne accompanied the crew during the location shoot. In part, he was there to do last minute re-writes during filming. But he was also working with Beatty on a script that would later become their hit comedy Shampoo (1975).

Beatty and Penn quarreled constantly during filming, as the star questioned almost every one of the director's choices. As a result, the rest of the cast spent hours waiting for them to settle their differences. One major bone of contention was Penn's insistence, early on, that they add a scene in which Bonnie and Clyde pretend to be dead. Beatty insisted the idea was ridiculously pretentious, but Towne tried to write it anyway. The writer soon realized that Beatty was right, but cautioned him to avoid a confrontation on the matter. In his opinion, Penn was only holding onto the idea out of insecurity -- he couldn't admit he was wrong. After a few weeks of filming bolstered Penn's confidence, Towne was sure he'd drop the idea, which is exactly what happened.

Initially, director Arthur Penn went for a realistic depiction of rural life in the '30s. Many scenes were modeled on Walker Evans' photographs and NRA posters. When he shot Bonnie's reunion with her family, however, he was entranced by the more romantic aspects of the story and used slow motion and hazy photography to create a dreamlike feeling he would return to for other scenes.

While they were shooting Bonnie and Clyde's confrontation in the fields after she tries to run away from the gang, a cloud passed over the sun, casting an unexpected shadow over Faye Dunaway's face. Rather than re-shoot the scene, Penn kept it in as a means of foreshadowing the character's tragic end.

On the day the company shot the scene in which Bonnie and Clyde wade through a river after they're shot, a cold front hit Texas. It took three days to film the scene as the actors fought not to shiver while the cameras were rolling.

For the climactic ambush, Beatty and Dunaway were covered with dozens of squibs embedded in their costumes and makeup and wired to a central control that made them explode in sequence to create the illusion that they were being shot.

The idea of shooting the final ambush in slow motion came from Penn, who wanted to make something more "balletic" out of their death scene. The scene as written depicted the shoot-out as a series of stills with screams and machine-gun fire played in the background. Penn also insisted that one squib be placed to make it look as if the back of Clyde's head had been blown away in a reference to the John F. Kennedy assassination.

Initially, Warren Beatty refused to have Faye Dunaway billed above the title with him. Even during shooting, he fought efforts to raise her billing. Finally, after the film was shot, he realized how strong an impact she was going to make in the role and agreed to give her star billing.

When Beatty and Penn showed the finished picture to studio head Jack L. Warner, he called it "the longest two hours and ten minutes I ever spent." A few weeks later, he sold his share in the studio to Seven Arts Productions for almost $200 million dollars, but the new management was no more interested in selling the film. They decided to premiere it at a Texas drive-in, then dump it in second-string theatres. Even when the film had a triumphant preview for industry insiders at the Directors Guild, they refused to change their plans. Finally, Beatty convinced them to premiere the film at the Montreal Film Festival, where the stars were given 14 curtain calls and a standing ovation. And still studio management stuck to their original distribution plan.

To avoid censorship problems, Beatty held off sending a script to the Production Code Administration (PCA), the industry's self-censorship organization, until just before shooting began. Even so, PCA head Geoffrey Shurlock fought, unsuccessfully, to remove the intimation that Bonnie was nude in the first scene, the suggestion of oral sex in one bedroom scene and the scene in which a bank teller is shot in the face when he jumps on the getaway car's running board. Later Beatty had another fight to convince the head of the National Catholic Office of Motion Pictures (the successor to the Legion of Decency) that Faye Dunaway was properly covered when she runs downstairs to meet Beatty in the film's first scene. The official kept insisting that he could see her breasts.

After bad notices in The New York Times, Time and Newsweek, what turned things around for Bonnie and Clyde was a 9,000-word rave by Pauline Kael, who was just starting her career as a film reviewer. When the magazine for which she regularly wrote, The New Republic, refused to print the lengthy review, she sold it to The New Yorker, which marked the start of her long tenure there. According to rumor, she also got Joe Morgenstern to reevaluate the film in Newsweek. After initially panning the film, he reported that he had totally missed the point and gave it a rave.

With positive attention from the press and the critics, Beatty pressured Warner Bros. to re-release the film. This was an unprecedented move at the time. At first, studio CEO Elliot Hyman said he would only do it if Beatty agreed to a cut in his profit participation. When Beatty threatened to sue, hinting that he knew more about Hyman's business dealings than he did, the bluff worked. The film went back into theaters a few weeks later.

Bonnie and Clyde reopened the day the Oscar® nominations were announced. The film received 10 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay. The second release was a huge success. In some theatres, the film grossed 10 times what it had during it first release.

by Frank Miller

Behind the Camera - Bonnie and Clyde

Originally, Warren Beatty hoped to cast French actress Leslie Caron, his girlfriend at the time, as Bonnie Parker. When he decided she wasn't right for the role, it led to the end of their relationship. Other actresses considered for the female lead included Natalie Wood, Jane Fonda, Carol Lynley, Tuesday Weld and even Beatty's sister, Shirley MacLaine. Weld was almost set to do the film when she learned she was pregnant and decided she couldn't handle the location shoot in Texas. Faye Dunaway had tried to get an interview with Arthur Penn when he was directing The Chase, but was rebuffed by a casting director who didn't think she had the right face for the movies. When Penn saw her in scenes from her first picture (The Happening, 1967) before its release, he decided to let her read for the role of Bonnie Parker. In planning her performance, Faye Dunaway wanted to wear slacks as Bonnie Parker, since the character would need to move freely to race in and out of getaway cars. In contrast, designer Theadora Van Runkle suggested a more glamorous look with long skirts, a beret and a short jacket. The "Bonnie and Clyde Look" became a fashion rage, and for years afterwards Dunaway would insist on having Van Runkle design her costumes. Beatty and Penn rounded out the cast with actors they had worked with during their days on Broadway, in live television and at the Actor's Studio. Beatty had been impressed with Gene Hackman -- who played Clyde's brother, Buck Barrow -- when they had worked together on Lilith in 1964. Beatty fought to shoot the film on locations around Texas, partly to create an authentic image of the Barrow Gang's exploits, but also to avoid interference from Warner Bros. executives. Writer Robert Towne accompanied the crew during the location shoot. In part, he was there to do last minute re-writes during filming. But he was also working with Beatty on a script that would later become their hit comedy Shampoo (1975). Beatty and Penn quarreled constantly during filming, as the star questioned almost every one of the director's choices. As a result, the rest of the cast spent hours waiting for them to settle their differences. One major bone of contention was Penn's insistence, early on, that they add a scene in which Bonnie and Clyde pretend to be dead. Beatty insisted the idea was ridiculously pretentious, but Towne tried to write it anyway. The writer soon realized that Beatty was right, but cautioned him to avoid a confrontation on the matter. In his opinion, Penn was only holding onto the idea out of insecurity -- he couldn't admit he was wrong. After a few weeks of filming bolstered Penn's confidence, Towne was sure he'd drop the idea, which is exactly what happened. Initially, director Arthur Penn went for a realistic depiction of rural life in the '30s. Many scenes were modeled on Walker Evans' photographs and NRA posters. When he shot Bonnie's reunion with her family, however, he was entranced by the more romantic aspects of the story and used slow motion and hazy photography to create a dreamlike feeling he would return to for other scenes. While they were shooting Bonnie and Clyde's confrontation in the fields after she tries to run away from the gang, a cloud passed over the sun, casting an unexpected shadow over Faye Dunaway's face. Rather than re-shoot the scene, Penn kept it in as a means of foreshadowing the character's tragic end. On the day the company shot the scene in which Bonnie and Clyde wade through a river after they're shot, a cold front hit Texas. It took three days to film the scene as the actors fought not to shiver while the cameras were rolling. For the climactic ambush, Beatty and Dunaway were covered with dozens of squibs embedded in their costumes and makeup and wired to a central control that made them explode in sequence to create the illusion that they were being shot. The idea of shooting the final ambush in slow motion came from Penn, who wanted to make something more "balletic" out of their death scene. The scene as written depicted the shoot-out as a series of stills with screams and machine-gun fire played in the background. Penn also insisted that one squib be placed to make it look as if the back of Clyde's head had been blown away in a reference to the John F. Kennedy assassination. Initially, Warren Beatty refused to have Faye Dunaway billed above the title with him. Even during shooting, he fought efforts to raise her billing. Finally, after the film was shot, he realized how strong an impact she was going to make in the role and agreed to give her star billing. When Beatty and Penn showed the finished picture to studio head Jack L. Warner, he called it "the longest two hours and ten minutes I ever spent." A few weeks later, he sold his share in the studio to Seven Arts Productions for almost $200 million dollars, but the new management was no more interested in selling the film. They decided to premiere it at a Texas drive-in, then dump it in second-string theatres. Even when the film had a triumphant preview for industry insiders at the Directors Guild, they refused to change their plans. Finally, Beatty convinced them to premiere the film at the Montreal Film Festival, where the stars were given 14 curtain calls and a standing ovation. And still studio management stuck to their original distribution plan. To avoid censorship problems, Beatty held off sending a script to the Production Code Administration (PCA), the industry's self-censorship organization, until just before shooting began. Even so, PCA head Geoffrey Shurlock fought, unsuccessfully, to remove the intimation that Bonnie was nude in the first scene, the suggestion of oral sex in one bedroom scene and the scene in which a bank teller is shot in the face when he jumps on the getaway car's running board. Later Beatty had another fight to convince the head of the National Catholic Office of Motion Pictures (the successor to the Legion of Decency) that Faye Dunaway was properly covered when she runs downstairs to meet Beatty in the film's first scene. The official kept insisting that he could see her breasts. After bad notices in The New York Times, Time and Newsweek, what turned things around for Bonnie and Clyde was a 9,000-word rave by Pauline Kael, who was just starting her career as a film reviewer. When the magazine for which she regularly wrote, The New Republic, refused to print the lengthy review, she sold it to The New Yorker, which marked the start of her long tenure there. According to rumor, she also got Joe Morgenstern to reevaluate the film in Newsweek. After initially panning the film, he reported that he had totally missed the point and gave it a rave. With positive attention from the press and the critics, Beatty pressured Warner Bros. to re-release the film. This was an unprecedented move at the time. At first, studio CEO Elliot Hyman said he would only do it if Beatty agreed to a cut in his profit participation. When Beatty threatened to sue, hinting that he knew more about Hyman's business dealings than he did, the bluff worked. The film went back into theaters a few weeks later. Bonnie and Clyde reopened the day the Oscar® nominations were announced. The film received 10 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay. The second release was a huge success. In some theatres, the film grossed 10 times what it had during it first release. by Frank Miller

Bonnie and Clyde


A tag line for the promotional poster for Bonnie and Clyde (1967) read: "They are young, they are in love, they kill people." Despite the rather glib come-on, it gave no indication of the incredible impact this film would have on the film industry, popular culture or the careers of those involved in its production. Originally conceived as a stark, black and white film about the infamous criminal couple from Texas with a visual look based on the Dust Bowl era photographs of Walker Evans and vintage NRA posters, the film experienced a stylistic overhaul on its way to the screen and became a colorful folk ballad which played fast and loose with the real facts. In addition to its abrupt changes in tone, which veered from high comedy to shocking violence, and an ironic use of bluegrass music, Bonnie and Clyde presented its murderous couple as romanticized and immensely attractive non-conformists (If you've ever seen portraits of the real Bonnie and Clyde, you know they DID NOT look like Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway). It was a portrait that clicked with hip, young sixties audiences who strongly identified with the fugitive lovers.

The idea for Bonnie and Clyde began in the early sixties when two Esquire writers, Robert Benton and David Newman, came across a book called The Dillinger Days by John Toland which covered the exploits of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Both writers had recently seen Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (1960) and it inspired them to do a screenplay about the notorious couple. In the book, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind (Simon and Schuster), David Newman said, "...the thing we loved about Bonnie and Clyde wasn't that they were bank robbers, because they were lousy bank robbers. The thing about them that made them so appealing and relevant, and so threatening to society, was that they were aesthetic revolutionaries. In our view, what kills Bonnie and Clyde is not that they broke the law, because nobody liked the fuc*ing banks - but that they put a tattoo on C. W. Moss. His father says, 'I can't believe that you let these people put pictures on your skin.' This is what the '60s turned out to be about."

When their screenplay was completed, Benton and Newman presented it to French director Francois Truffaut whom they greatly admired. Due to prior commitments, Truffaut sent the script on to Jean-Luc Godard who briefly flirted with the idea of directing it but eventually it came back to Truffaut who finally agreed to do it. Unfortunately, no Hollywood studio was interested in funding an American gangster film directed by a Frenchman who could barely speak English. So, the project was shelved until Warren Beatty read the script, saw the potential, and contacted Benton and Newman.

Beatty knew that the ideal director for the film was Arthur Penn, even though the latter was keeping a low profile after two box-office failures in a row - Mickey One (1965), an arty film noir influenced by the European New Wave (Warren Beatty played the lead), and The Chase (1966), a potentially fascinating melodrama mangled by studio interference. Penn quickly accepted Beatty's offer and once the producer/star wrangled a favorable production deal from Walter MacEwen at Warner Bros., Bonnie and Clyde became a reality. Under the terms of his contract, Beatty accepted a flat salary of $200,000 and forty percent of the gross. At the time, Warner Bros. expected the film to be a modest success that would make back its production cost. Instead, it became a runaway hit, making Beatty a rich man and a powerful new Hollywood player. It also taught the studio to be tougher on future contract negotiations since they lost a fortune on Beatty's deal.

Bonnie and Clyde was shot on location in Texas, far from the threat of studio interference. Although Beatty and Penn clashed constantly over creative issues, they both agreed that the violence in the film had to shock people; Penn was clearly referencing President Kennedy's assassination in the final massacre sequence when you see a piece of Clyde's head blown away.

In her autobiography, Looking for Gatsby, Faye Dunaway recalled the film's electrifying climax: "My whole body and costume had to be made up in layers. I still know the exact position of at least three places on my face where I take bullets - my upper left check near my nose, the middle of my right cheek, and my forehead...there was a black center where each bullet hole was, and around that was painted a little red rim. On top of that they put wax, which they covered with makeup. Then attached to the wax was a squib and a tiny wire, not much bigger than a strand of hair so that it was virtually invisible. During the scene, each of the squids would be detonated. They're little dynamite charges, and when detonated they explode like little bombs. When they finished with me, there were dozens of wires coming from my body and my face. Up close I looked like an escapee from a mad scientist's laboratory. For that final scene, the question became how would I react to the bullets that would be hitting me?....What I evolved was a Saint Vitus' dance, Bonnie's dance of death."

When the film went into release, it generated considerable controversy due to its excessive violence. Many prominent film critics attacked the film for glamorizing the deadly duo while others rushed to the film's defense. New York Times critic Bosley Crowther called the film "a cheap piece of bald-faced slapstick" yet Pauline Kael of The New Yorker proclaimed it "the most excitingly American American movie since The Manchurian Candidate (1962)." Some reviewers even reversed their opinions completely such as Newsweek's Joseph Morgenstern who first labeled the film "a squalid shoot-'em-up for the Moran trade," then a week later retracted his original opinion and praised it. Despite the mixed critical reception, Bonnie and Clyde was a huge hit with audiences, particularly younger viewers, and Theadora Van Runkle's costumes had an incredible impact on the world of international fashion. In addition to earning Beatty and Penn new respect in Hollywood, the film also elevated Faye Dunaway to star status and rapidly advanced the careers of Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Michael J. Pollard, and newcomer Gene Wilder. The crowning glory was its recognition at Oscar time: it garnered ten nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. Even though, it only won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress (Estelle Parsons) and Best Cinematography (Burnett Guffey), it still stands as a 'watershed' film, far surpassing 1967's Best Picture winner - In the Heat of the Night - in terms of its cultural impact and its influence on future filmmakers.

Producer: Warren Beatty
Director: Arthur Penn
Screenplay: Robert Benton, David Newman, Robert Towne (uncredited)
Art Direction: Dean Tavoularis
Cinematography: Burnett Guffey
Costume Design: Theadora Van Runkle
Film Editing: Dede Allen
Original Music: Charles Strouse
Cast: Warren Beatty (Clyde Barrow), Faye Dunaway (Bonnie Parker), Michael J. Pollard (C.W. Moss), Gene Hackman (Buck Barrow), Estelle Parsons (Blanche), Denver Pyle (Frank Hamer), Dub Taylor (Ivan Moss), Evans Evans (Velma Davis), Gene Wilder (Eugene Grizzard).
C-112m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Jeff Stafford

Bonnie and Clyde

A tag line for the promotional poster for Bonnie and Clyde (1967) read: "They are young, they are in love, they kill people." Despite the rather glib come-on, it gave no indication of the incredible impact this film would have on the film industry, popular culture or the careers of those involved in its production. Originally conceived as a stark, black and white film about the infamous criminal couple from Texas with a visual look based on the Dust Bowl era photographs of Walker Evans and vintage NRA posters, the film experienced a stylistic overhaul on its way to the screen and became a colorful folk ballad which played fast and loose with the real facts. In addition to its abrupt changes in tone, which veered from high comedy to shocking violence, and an ironic use of bluegrass music, Bonnie and Clyde presented its murderous couple as romanticized and immensely attractive non-conformists (If you've ever seen portraits of the real Bonnie and Clyde, you know they DID NOT look like Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway). It was a portrait that clicked with hip, young sixties audiences who strongly identified with the fugitive lovers. The idea for Bonnie and Clyde began in the early sixties when two Esquire writers, Robert Benton and David Newman, came across a book called The Dillinger Days by John Toland which covered the exploits of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Both writers had recently seen Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (1960) and it inspired them to do a screenplay about the notorious couple. In the book, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind (Simon and Schuster), David Newman said, "...the thing we loved about Bonnie and Clyde wasn't that they were bank robbers, because they were lousy bank robbers. The thing about them that made them so appealing and relevant, and so threatening to society, was that they were aesthetic revolutionaries. In our view, what kills Bonnie and Clyde is not that they broke the law, because nobody liked the fuc*ing banks - but that they put a tattoo on C. W. Moss. His father says, 'I can't believe that you let these people put pictures on your skin.' This is what the '60s turned out to be about." When their screenplay was completed, Benton and Newman presented it to French director Francois Truffaut whom they greatly admired. Due to prior commitments, Truffaut sent the script on to Jean-Luc Godard who briefly flirted with the idea of directing it but eventually it came back to Truffaut who finally agreed to do it. Unfortunately, no Hollywood studio was interested in funding an American gangster film directed by a Frenchman who could barely speak English. So, the project was shelved until Warren Beatty read the script, saw the potential, and contacted Benton and Newman. Beatty knew that the ideal director for the film was Arthur Penn, even though the latter was keeping a low profile after two box-office failures in a row - Mickey One (1965), an arty film noir influenced by the European New Wave (Warren Beatty played the lead), and The Chase (1966), a potentially fascinating melodrama mangled by studio interference. Penn quickly accepted Beatty's offer and once the producer/star wrangled a favorable production deal from Walter MacEwen at Warner Bros., Bonnie and Clyde became a reality. Under the terms of his contract, Beatty accepted a flat salary of $200,000 and forty percent of the gross. At the time, Warner Bros. expected the film to be a modest success that would make back its production cost. Instead, it became a runaway hit, making Beatty a rich man and a powerful new Hollywood player. It also taught the studio to be tougher on future contract negotiations since they lost a fortune on Beatty's deal. Bonnie and Clyde was shot on location in Texas, far from the threat of studio interference. Although Beatty and Penn clashed constantly over creative issues, they both agreed that the violence in the film had to shock people; Penn was clearly referencing President Kennedy's assassination in the final massacre sequence when you see a piece of Clyde's head blown away. In her autobiography, Looking for Gatsby, Faye Dunaway recalled the film's electrifying climax: "My whole body and costume had to be made up in layers. I still know the exact position of at least three places on my face where I take bullets - my upper left check near my nose, the middle of my right cheek, and my forehead...there was a black center where each bullet hole was, and around that was painted a little red rim. On top of that they put wax, which they covered with makeup. Then attached to the wax was a squib and a tiny wire, not much bigger than a strand of hair so that it was virtually invisible. During the scene, each of the squids would be detonated. They're little dynamite charges, and when detonated they explode like little bombs. When they finished with me, there were dozens of wires coming from my body and my face. Up close I looked like an escapee from a mad scientist's laboratory. For that final scene, the question became how would I react to the bullets that would be hitting me?....What I evolved was a Saint Vitus' dance, Bonnie's dance of death." When the film went into release, it generated considerable controversy due to its excessive violence. Many prominent film critics attacked the film for glamorizing the deadly duo while others rushed to the film's defense. New York Times critic Bosley Crowther called the film "a cheap piece of bald-faced slapstick" yet Pauline Kael of The New Yorker proclaimed it "the most excitingly American American movie since The Manchurian Candidate (1962)." Some reviewers even reversed their opinions completely such as Newsweek's Joseph Morgenstern who first labeled the film "a squalid shoot-'em-up for the Moran trade," then a week later retracted his original opinion and praised it. Despite the mixed critical reception, Bonnie and Clyde was a huge hit with audiences, particularly younger viewers, and Theadora Van Runkle's costumes had an incredible impact on the world of international fashion. In addition to earning Beatty and Penn new respect in Hollywood, the film also elevated Faye Dunaway to star status and rapidly advanced the careers of Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Michael J. Pollard, and newcomer Gene Wilder. The crowning glory was its recognition at Oscar time: it garnered ten nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. Even though, it only won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress (Estelle Parsons) and Best Cinematography (Burnett Guffey), it still stands as a 'watershed' film, far surpassing 1967's Best Picture winner - In the Heat of the Night - in terms of its cultural impact and its influence on future filmmakers. Producer: Warren Beatty Director: Arthur Penn Screenplay: Robert Benton, David Newman, Robert Towne (uncredited) Art Direction: Dean Tavoularis Cinematography: Burnett Guffey Costume Design: Theadora Van Runkle Film Editing: Dede Allen Original Music: Charles Strouse Cast: Warren Beatty (Clyde Barrow), Faye Dunaway (Bonnie Parker), Michael J. Pollard (C.W. Moss), Gene Hackman (Buck Barrow), Estelle Parsons (Blanche), Denver Pyle (Frank Hamer), Dub Taylor (Ivan Moss), Evans Evans (Velma Davis), Gene Wilder (Eugene Grizzard). C-112m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Jeff Stafford

Critics' Corner - Bonnie and Clyde - The Critics Corner: BONNIE AND CLYDE


AWARDS & HONORS

Bonnie and Clyde was nominated for 10 Oscars®: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Warren Beatty), Best Actress (Faye Dunaway), Best Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman and Michael J. Pollard), Best Supporting Actress (Estelle Parsons), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Costuming. Only Parsons and cinematographer Burnett Guffey won.

David Newman and Robert Benton won Best Screenplay awards from the Writers Guild, the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.

Gene Hackman was named Best Supporting Actor by the National Society of Film Critics.

Faye Dunaway and Michael J. Pollard won awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) as Most Promising Newcomers to Leading Film Roles.

In 1992, Bonnie and Clyde was voted onto the National Film Registry, earning recognition as a national treasure.

The Critics Corner: BONNIE AND CLYDE

Despite the misgivings of Warner Bros.' top executives and a disastrous initial release, Bonnie and Clyde became one of the top-grossing films of its year. With $23 million in rentals, it became the studio's second highest-grossing film to that time, right behind My Fair Lady (1964).

"...a cheap piece of bald-faced slapstick that treats the hideous depredations of that sleazy moronic pair as though they were as full of fun and frolic as the jazz-age cutups in Thoroughly Modern Millie [1967]." - Bosley Crowther, The New York Times "...a squalid shoot-'em-up for the moron trade." - Joe Morgenstern's first review in Newsweek. "I am sorry to say I consider that review grossly unfair and regrettably inaccurate. I am sorrier to say I wrote it." - Morgenstern's retraction, a week later, also in Newsweek. "How do you make a good movie in this country and not get jumped on? Bonnie and Clyde is the most exciting American movie since The Manchurian Candidate [1962]. The audience is alive to it." - Pauline Kael, The New Yorker.

"A film from which we shall date reputations and innovations in the American cinema." - Alexander Walker, Evening Standard.

"It works as comedy, as tragedy, as entertainment, as a meditation on the place of guns and violence in American society" - Roger Ebert, The Great Movies.

by Frank Miller

Critics' Corner - Bonnie and Clyde - The Critics Corner: BONNIE AND CLYDE

AWARDS & HONORS Bonnie and Clyde was nominated for 10 Oscars®: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Warren Beatty), Best Actress (Faye Dunaway), Best Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman and Michael J. Pollard), Best Supporting Actress (Estelle Parsons), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Costuming. Only Parsons and cinematographer Burnett Guffey won. David Newman and Robert Benton won Best Screenplay awards from the Writers Guild, the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics. Gene Hackman was named Best Supporting Actor by the National Society of Film Critics. Faye Dunaway and Michael J. Pollard won awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) as Most Promising Newcomers to Leading Film Roles. In 1992, Bonnie and Clyde was voted onto the National Film Registry, earning recognition as a national treasure. The Critics Corner: BONNIE AND CLYDE Despite the misgivings of Warner Bros.' top executives and a disastrous initial release, Bonnie and Clyde became one of the top-grossing films of its year. With $23 million in rentals, it became the studio's second highest-grossing film to that time, right behind My Fair Lady (1964). "...a cheap piece of bald-faced slapstick that treats the hideous depredations of that sleazy moronic pair as though they were as full of fun and frolic as the jazz-age cutups in Thoroughly Modern Millie [1967]." - Bosley Crowther, The New York Times "...a squalid shoot-'em-up for the moron trade." - Joe Morgenstern's first review in Newsweek. "I am sorry to say I consider that review grossly unfair and regrettably inaccurate. I am sorrier to say I wrote it." - Morgenstern's retraction, a week later, also in Newsweek. "How do you make a good movie in this country and not get jumped on? Bonnie and Clyde is the most exciting American movie since The Manchurian Candidate [1962]. The audience is alive to it." - Pauline Kael, The New Yorker. "A film from which we shall date reputations and innovations in the American cinema." - Alexander Walker, Evening Standard. "It works as comedy, as tragedy, as entertainment, as a meditation on the place of guns and violence in American society" - Roger Ebert, The Great Movies. by Frank Miller

Bonnie and Clyde (2-disc Special Edition) - Arthur Penn's Landmark 1967 Film BONNIE AND CLYDE in a 2-Disc DVD Special Edition


1967's Bonnie and Clyde broke down the last walls of the old Hollywood studio system. Star/producer Warren Beatty proved that audiences wanted something more than the same bland studio formulas. Combining French New Wave stylistics, creative actors and a director willing to experiment, Bonnie and Clyde became the most influential American film of the 1960s.

Arthur Penn's movie is a daring and exhilarating show by any standard. Audiences were riveted by a story that veered between comedy and tragedy, always threatening to explode with violence more real than anything seen before. Warren Beatty fulfilled his promise as an actor while practically everyone else in his cast stepped up to star status. Bonnie and Clyde's glamorous mythologizing reached back to the Depression, to make a pair of rural bandits into an American Romeo and Juliet.

Warners present Bonnie and Clyde in three separate editions, including a Special Edition in the newly ascendant Blu-ray format.

Synopsis: Car thief and ex-convict Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) picks up frustrated waitress Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) in Dallas, and they begin a series of improvised holdups. They enlist grease monkey C.W. Moss (Michael J. Pollard) as a mechanic and getaway driver, and make the most-wanted lists when Clyde kills a man during a robbery. Clyde's brother Buck (Gene Hackman) and his wife Blanche (Estelle Parsons) eventually join up, an arrangement that robs Bonnie of the little time she gets to spend alone with the impotent Clyde. The more famous the gang becomes, the more Bonnie realizes that their love will end in a bloody death.

The movie industry didn't know how to handle Bonnie and Clyde and gave it a brief non-release. Warren Beatty was able to get it re-issued, with the help of influential New York critics. Pauline Kael rose to prominence by championing the film, while a typically clueless review by Bosley Crowther is said to have ended his tenure at the New York Times.

Bonnie and Clyde was fresh from top to bottom. 60s gangster movies, even the same year's success The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, were generally mid-range studio films that got by without much style -- a few costumes, a few old cars. This new movie used extensive research to reproduce a specific The Grapes of Wrath Depression setting. Cars carried appropriate license plates and clothing was made of original fabric; we can see bottle caps hammered into porch posts. Accustomed to the thoughtless anachronisms of routine movies, audiences soaked up atmospherics as dense as those in a Visconti film, and were transported into an earlier era.

The original script could easily have consigned the movie to the studio shelf. In the final cut Clyde Barrow is merely impotent, as opposed to being bisexual or homosexual (well, that last is debatable). We're only given hints that Bonnie plays around with C.W. Moss, starting with the fact that Moss sleeps in the same room with the outlaw lovers. Bluenoses (including Crowther) expected the screenplay to condemn the bandits outright, as any decent film would have done. So incensed were they over a lack of a proper moral tone, that a daring suggestion of oral sex went unremarked, or unnoticed.

Parker and Barrow's self-promoting motto is 'We rob banks', but we soon realize that these moral adolescents have no idea what they're doing. Compared to other rural bandits of the time -- Pretty Boy Floyd, John Dillinger -- they're no more than copycat amateurs. Skipping Clyde's formative years as a petty thief and bitter jailbird, the script presents the lovers' lifestyle as a reckless avoidance of responsibility. Their rebellion yields neither riches nor security; their self-image is a mixture of Depression hopelessness and foolish Narcissism. Bonnie is desperate to be a hot chick, while Clyde just wants to 'show the world sumthin' before The Laws bring him down. After their first murder, there's no turning back.

Striking visuals suggesting Norman Rockwell sickened by the Dust Bowl elevate the outlaws' legend to the realm of mythic Americana. Homeless Okie families feed the wounded couple, and Clyde helps a dispossessed farmer strike a symbolic blow against the heartless bankers. Just when 60s newspaper pundits were fumbling with commentaries about new anti-heroes fighting 'the establishment', Bonnie and Clyde's unspoken sentiments helped inaugurate a brief trend dubbed Radical Chic. Most of these rebellion-themed pictures used contemporary settings, but not all. 1903-era outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid behave like fun-loving Bohemians, just trying to do their thing without being hassled by The Man. Butch Cassidy promises to duplicate Bonnie and Clyde's concluding bloodbath -- and then cops out with an MPAA-friendly freeze-frame.

The film seems immediate and 'modern' because Bonnie & Clyde are aware of their status as minor celebrities. Bonnie imagines herself as a glamorous movie star, and sends photos and poems to the newspaper. The lovers find their one moment of bliss when Clyde realizes that Bonnie's doggerel has guaranteed him immortality. As in the French New Wave, audio overlaps join scenes that begin and end at odd moments. The narrative is interrupted for interview-like asides and a strange soft-focus picnic idyll that seems to come from a separate reality. 1967 audiences had to 'read' the cinematic story, as no expository speeches or narration explained what was going on. What's Bonnie doing, writhing around naked and frustrated on her bed? Can a serious crime actually start as a sexual dare? Robbing banks is almost like play-acting; it's a lot of fun until people get hurt. Clyde is shocked when a grocer tries to kill him with a meat cleaver -- does he think people shouldn't mind being robbed?

And the violence -- editor Dede Allen turns the armed confrontations into bursts of chaos, with cops and robbers blasted left and right. Estelle Parsons runs screaming like a fool through the middle of a gory shoot-out, proving that a scene can be simultaneously horrifying and funny. By the time the heart-stopping finale catches up with Bonnie and Clyde, the movie has us completely in its spell. Doom hangs heavy from the moment we hear Bonnie's mother tell Clyde, "You just keep runnin'." We know that Capt. Frank Hamer (Denver Pyle, a favorite actor of John Wayne) won't spare the gunpowder. Forget chivalric honor and the myth of fair play; Hamer just lets 'em have it in a stone-cold ambush.

Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch may have more bloodshed but the butchery in Bonnie & Clyde is more deeply felt. This stuff hurts. Killing is different when we've laughed with the victims and identified with their awkward inexperience. Bonnie takes a shot to the shoulder, Clyde barely escapes a good-ol'-boy shooting gallery and Buck dies an excruciating death bleeding like an animal. When the end comes in the roadside ambush, it seems incredibly disproportionate -- so many rounds are fired, you'd think the sheriff was afraid his targets were bulletproof. Part of Clyde's scalp blows away (an intentional Zapruder reference?) as the fusillade turns the lovers into dancing puppets, writhing and jerking even after they're dead.

That blast of psychic overkill ushered in a new era of explicit violence for mainstream movies. Director Arthur Penn had just come from The Chase, an unsuccessful attempt to make a statement about American violence -- and which also ended with an evocation of the JFK assassination. Forty years later, in a culture grown even more bloodthirsty, Bonnie and Clyde has retained its kick.

Warners' Bonnie and Clyde looks better than ever in a remastered transfer. Seen in the ultra sharp Blu-ray format, Burnett Guffey's color cinematography evokes many expressive moods. The Two-disc Special Edition DVD (pictured) comes with two trailers that use wince-inducing flower power visuals. At least the tagline is brilliant: "They're young, they're in love and they kill people." Almost as if by magic, Bonnie and Clyde became the movie one had to see.

A History Channel docu chronicles the sordid career of the real Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. It recycles many images but also features rare movies and stills of the actual ambush aftermath. Warren Beatty appears in a lengthy wardrobe test, trying out faces and poses he must have been practicing in front of a mirror. Two (actually one and a half) deleted scenes are included: an episode in a lunchroom and an odd extra fragment with Bonnie primping while C.W. takes a bath. Bonnie teases C.W. in a semi-suggestive manner. The audio for these clips has been lost, so subtitles have been added.

Laurent Bouzereau's 3-part making-of show Revolution! is one of the best DVD docus ever. Bouzereau has lined up almost everyone associated with the movie: Warren Beatty, Arthur Penn, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Michael J. Pollard, Robert Benton, Evans Evans, Robert Towne. All contribute fascinating insights and anecdotes. Theodora Van Runkle's influential costume design started with Faye Dunaway's 'look', which came together with the addition of a black beret. The only non-authentic aspect of Bonnie Parker appears to be her hairstyle. Gene Hackman and Estelle Parsons relate the excitement and adventure of making the movie. For once, a making-of doesn't overstate a film's impact: Bonnie and Clyde's was staggering. The actors describe audiences left silent and breathless at the final, abrupt cut to black. I can attest to that being the exact reaction -- sheer amazement.

An Ultimate Edition DVD adds a 36-page book, a reproduction of the original pressbook and a mail-in poster offer. The Blu-Ray release comes in a disc holder that contains the book extra. The one Blu-ray disc contains all of the video extras in the 2-disc DVD set.

For more information about Bonnie and Clyde, visit Warner Video. To order Bonnie and Clyde, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson

Bonnie and Clyde (2-disc Special Edition) - Arthur Penn's Landmark 1967 Film BONNIE AND CLYDE in a 2-Disc DVD Special Edition

1967's Bonnie and Clyde broke down the last walls of the old Hollywood studio system. Star/producer Warren Beatty proved that audiences wanted something more than the same bland studio formulas. Combining French New Wave stylistics, creative actors and a director willing to experiment, Bonnie and Clyde became the most influential American film of the 1960s. Arthur Penn's movie is a daring and exhilarating show by any standard. Audiences were riveted by a story that veered between comedy and tragedy, always threatening to explode with violence more real than anything seen before. Warren Beatty fulfilled his promise as an actor while practically everyone else in his cast stepped up to star status. Bonnie and Clyde's glamorous mythologizing reached back to the Depression, to make a pair of rural bandits into an American Romeo and Juliet. Warners present Bonnie and Clyde in three separate editions, including a Special Edition in the newly ascendant Blu-ray format. Synopsis: Car thief and ex-convict Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) picks up frustrated waitress Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) in Dallas, and they begin a series of improvised holdups. They enlist grease monkey C.W. Moss (Michael J. Pollard) as a mechanic and getaway driver, and make the most-wanted lists when Clyde kills a man during a robbery. Clyde's brother Buck (Gene Hackman) and his wife Blanche (Estelle Parsons) eventually join up, an arrangement that robs Bonnie of the little time she gets to spend alone with the impotent Clyde. The more famous the gang becomes, the more Bonnie realizes that their love will end in a bloody death. The movie industry didn't know how to handle Bonnie and Clyde and gave it a brief non-release. Warren Beatty was able to get it re-issued, with the help of influential New York critics. Pauline Kael rose to prominence by championing the film, while a typically clueless review by Bosley Crowther is said to have ended his tenure at the New York Times. Bonnie and Clyde was fresh from top to bottom. 60s gangster movies, even the same year's success The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, were generally mid-range studio films that got by without much style -- a few costumes, a few old cars. This new movie used extensive research to reproduce a specific The Grapes of Wrath Depression setting. Cars carried appropriate license plates and clothing was made of original fabric; we can see bottle caps hammered into porch posts. Accustomed to the thoughtless anachronisms of routine movies, audiences soaked up atmospherics as dense as those in a Visconti film, and were transported into an earlier era. The original script could easily have consigned the movie to the studio shelf. In the final cut Clyde Barrow is merely impotent, as opposed to being bisexual or homosexual (well, that last is debatable). We're only given hints that Bonnie plays around with C.W. Moss, starting with the fact that Moss sleeps in the same room with the outlaw lovers. Bluenoses (including Crowther) expected the screenplay to condemn the bandits outright, as any decent film would have done. So incensed were they over a lack of a proper moral tone, that a daring suggestion of oral sex went unremarked, or unnoticed. Parker and Barrow's self-promoting motto is 'We rob banks', but we soon realize that these moral adolescents have no idea what they're doing. Compared to other rural bandits of the time -- Pretty Boy Floyd, John Dillinger -- they're no more than copycat amateurs. Skipping Clyde's formative years as a petty thief and bitter jailbird, the script presents the lovers' lifestyle as a reckless avoidance of responsibility. Their rebellion yields neither riches nor security; their self-image is a mixture of Depression hopelessness and foolish Narcissism. Bonnie is desperate to be a hot chick, while Clyde just wants to 'show the world sumthin' before The Laws bring him down. After their first murder, there's no turning back. Striking visuals suggesting Norman Rockwell sickened by the Dust Bowl elevate the outlaws' legend to the realm of mythic Americana. Homeless Okie families feed the wounded couple, and Clyde helps a dispossessed farmer strike a symbolic blow against the heartless bankers. Just when 60s newspaper pundits were fumbling with commentaries about new anti-heroes fighting 'the establishment', Bonnie and Clyde's unspoken sentiments helped inaugurate a brief trend dubbed Radical Chic. Most of these rebellion-themed pictures used contemporary settings, but not all. 1903-era outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid behave like fun-loving Bohemians, just trying to do their thing without being hassled by The Man. Butch Cassidy promises to duplicate Bonnie and Clyde's concluding bloodbath -- and then cops out with an MPAA-friendly freeze-frame. The film seems immediate and 'modern' because Bonnie & Clyde are aware of their status as minor celebrities. Bonnie imagines herself as a glamorous movie star, and sends photos and poems to the newspaper. The lovers find their one moment of bliss when Clyde realizes that Bonnie's doggerel has guaranteed him immortality. As in the French New Wave, audio overlaps join scenes that begin and end at odd moments. The narrative is interrupted for interview-like asides and a strange soft-focus picnic idyll that seems to come from a separate reality. 1967 audiences had to 'read' the cinematic story, as no expository speeches or narration explained what was going on. What's Bonnie doing, writhing around naked and frustrated on her bed? Can a serious crime actually start as a sexual dare? Robbing banks is almost like play-acting; it's a lot of fun until people get hurt. Clyde is shocked when a grocer tries to kill him with a meat cleaver -- does he think people shouldn't mind being robbed? And the violence -- editor Dede Allen turns the armed confrontations into bursts of chaos, with cops and robbers blasted left and right. Estelle Parsons runs screaming like a fool through the middle of a gory shoot-out, proving that a scene can be simultaneously horrifying and funny. By the time the heart-stopping finale catches up with Bonnie and Clyde, the movie has us completely in its spell. Doom hangs heavy from the moment we hear Bonnie's mother tell Clyde, "You just keep runnin'." We know that Capt. Frank Hamer (Denver Pyle, a favorite actor of John Wayne) won't spare the gunpowder. Forget chivalric honor and the myth of fair play; Hamer just lets 'em have it in a stone-cold ambush. Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch may have more bloodshed but the butchery in Bonnie & Clyde is more deeply felt. This stuff hurts. Killing is different when we've laughed with the victims and identified with their awkward inexperience. Bonnie takes a shot to the shoulder, Clyde barely escapes a good-ol'-boy shooting gallery and Buck dies an excruciating death bleeding like an animal. When the end comes in the roadside ambush, it seems incredibly disproportionate -- so many rounds are fired, you'd think the sheriff was afraid his targets were bulletproof. Part of Clyde's scalp blows away (an intentional Zapruder reference?) as the fusillade turns the lovers into dancing puppets, writhing and jerking even after they're dead. That blast of psychic overkill ushered in a new era of explicit violence for mainstream movies. Director Arthur Penn had just come from The Chase, an unsuccessful attempt to make a statement about American violence -- and which also ended with an evocation of the JFK assassination. Forty years later, in a culture grown even more bloodthirsty, Bonnie and Clyde has retained its kick. Warners' Bonnie and Clyde looks better than ever in a remastered transfer. Seen in the ultra sharp Blu-ray format, Burnett Guffey's color cinematography evokes many expressive moods. The Two-disc Special Edition DVD (pictured) comes with two trailers that use wince-inducing flower power visuals. At least the tagline is brilliant: "They're young, they're in love and they kill people." Almost as if by magic, Bonnie and Clyde became the movie one had to see. A History Channel docu chronicles the sordid career of the real Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. It recycles many images but also features rare movies and stills of the actual ambush aftermath. Warren Beatty appears in a lengthy wardrobe test, trying out faces and poses he must have been practicing in front of a mirror. Two (actually one and a half) deleted scenes are included: an episode in a lunchroom and an odd extra fragment with Bonnie primping while C.W. takes a bath. Bonnie teases C.W. in a semi-suggestive manner. The audio for these clips has been lost, so subtitles have been added. Laurent Bouzereau's 3-part making-of show Revolution! is one of the best DVD docus ever. Bouzereau has lined up almost everyone associated with the movie: Warren Beatty, Arthur Penn, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Michael J. Pollard, Robert Benton, Evans Evans, Robert Towne. All contribute fascinating insights and anecdotes. Theodora Van Runkle's influential costume design started with Faye Dunaway's 'look', which came together with the addition of a black beret. The only non-authentic aspect of Bonnie Parker appears to be her hairstyle. Gene Hackman and Estelle Parsons relate the excitement and adventure of making the movie. For once, a making-of doesn't overstate a film's impact: Bonnie and Clyde's was staggering. The actors describe audiences left silent and breathless at the final, abrupt cut to black. I can attest to that being the exact reaction -- sheer amazement. An Ultimate Edition DVD adds a 36-page book, a reproduction of the original pressbook and a mail-in poster offer. The Blu-Ray release comes in a disc holder that contains the book extra. The one Blu-ray disc contains all of the video extras in the 2-disc DVD set. For more information about Bonnie and Clyde, visit Warner Video. To order Bonnie and Clyde, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson

Quotes

We rob banks!
- Bonnie Parker
I spent a year in reformatory!
- C.W. Moss
Whooee! A man with a record!
- Bonnie Parker
All I can say is, they did right by me -- and I'm bringin' me and a mess of flowers to their funeral.
- Farmer
I don't think he's lost. I think the bank's been offerin' extra reward money for us. I think Frank just figured on some easy pickin's, didn't ya Frank? You're no Texas Ranger. You're hardly doin' your job. You ought to be home protectin' the rights of poor folk, not out chasin' after us!
- Clyde Barrow
Hey, you wanna hear a story 'bout this boy? He owned a dairy farm, see. And his ol' Ma, she was kinda sick, you know. And the doctor, he had called him come over, and said, uh, "Uhh listen, your Ma, she's lyin' there, she's just so sick and she's weakly, and uh, uh I want ya to try to persuade her to take a little brandy," you see. Just to pick her spirits up, ya know. And "Ma's a teetotaler," he says. "She wouldn't touch a drop." "Well, I'll tell ya whatcha do, uh," -- the doc -- "I'll tell ya whatcha do, you bring in a fresh quart of milk every day and you put some brandy in it, see. And see. You try that." So he did. And he doctored it all up with the brandy, fresh milk, and he gave it to his Mom. And she drank a little bit of it, you know. So next day, he brought it in again and she drank a little more, you know. And so they went on that way for the third day and just a little more, and the fourth day, she was, you know, took a little bit more - and then finally, one week later, he gave her the milk and she just drank it down. Boy, she swallowed the whole, whole, whole thing, you know. And she called him over and she said, "Son, whatever you do, don't sell that cow!"
- Buck Barrow

Trivia

Morgan Fairchild, who was active in Dallas theatre, began her film career in this film as Faye Dunaway's stand-in.

Jane Fonda turned down the role of Bonnie Parker. Living in France at the time, she did not want to relocate to the U.S. for the part.

The film has a dynamic soundtrack that gets much louder during the gunfights. The British premiere of the film was notable because the projectionist previewed the film and thought the volume changes were a mistake, so he made careful notes for when to turn it up and when to turn it down so that the volume was "corrected."

Visitors to Alcatraz Island near San Francisco might be interested to see where the couple's real-life driver Floyd Hamilton was imprisoned. It was cell #26 located in the D Block.

The character "C.W. Moss" is a fictionalized composite of two members of the Barrow gang: William Daniel "W.D." Jones, and Henry Methvin.

Notes

At the end of the opening credits, two title cards appear. The first contains a black-and-white photograph of Faye Dunaway as "Bonnie Parker," next to the following written statement: "Bonnie Parker was born in Rowena, Texas, 1910 and then moved to West Dallas. In 1931 she worked in a cafe before beginning her career in crime." The second title card displays a photograph of Warren Beatty as "Clyde Barrow," next to the following statement: "Clyde Barrow, was born to a family of sharecroppers. As a young man he became a small-time thief and robbed a gas station. He served two years for armed robbery and was released on good behavior in 1931." The action of the story then begins.
Location scenes were filmed in Texas. In one scene, a sequence from Gold Diggers of 1933 (see below) is shown in a movie theater.

Miscellaneous Notes

Voted Best American Screenplay - Drama and Best Original Screenplay of 1967 by the Writers Guild of America.

Voted Best Screenplay by the 1967 New York Film Critics Association.

Voted Best Supporting Actor (Hackman) and Best Screenplay by the 1967 National Society of Film Critics.

Released in United States Summer August 13, 1967

Limited re-release in United States October 6, 2017

Released in United States on Video February 1, 1989

Released in United States 1973

Released in United States January 1994

Released in United States February 2007

Shown at Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale Special) February 8-18, 2007.

Released in United States Summer August 13, 1967

Limited re-release in United States October 6, 2017 (New York)

Released in United States on Video February 1, 1989

Released in United States 1973 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Great American Films) November 15 ¿ December 16, 1973.)

Released in United States January 1994 (Shown at Sundance Film Festival (Tribute to Arthur Penn) in Park City, Utah January 20-30, 1994.)

Selected in 1992 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

Released in United States February 2007 (Shown at Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale Special) February 8-18, 2007. )