Bonnie And Clyde (1967), or The Making Of A Dynasty

9 06 2009

Bonnie And Clyde is an important movie in the sense that it opened up Hollywood. After this movie erupted into theaters in 1967, its massive success opened up new ideas about what was possible and permissible in large Hollywood films regarding sex and violence. After all, if adults can’t go into a theater and watch a bunch of people being graphically blasted to bits, what’s the point of being an adult? But besides all the hype surrounding this legendary film, it’s just a plain good movie. There’s a lot to like here, and the fact that most teens these days have never even HEARD of the movie is nothing short of tragic.

It’s a semi-historical look into the real-life Bonnie and Clyde, a real-life couple who consummated their passion by robbing banks together. The movie starts by following their first meeting at a diner during the Great Depression to their rampage around the country, robbing banks together and turning heads. Along the way they form a small rag-tag bunch of partners, and start more ambitious jobs than the two of them alone could handle. The news of a couple robbing banks together quickly gains media attention, and the two young paramours couldn’t be happier. But media attention quickly turns to police attention as the chase gets closer and closer between the gang and the authorities. Who will win out in the end? Well, if you know anything about history, I’m sure you have a very good idea!

This is a very interesting movie, if only to watch celebrities in their youth. This was a breakout movie for stars Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. It also catapulted the careers of big names like Gene Hackman and Billy Wilder. These young guns are brimming with inspiration here, on the cusps of their budding careers, so watching them dive head-first into a role like this is pretty spectacular stuff. Gene Hackman especially shows promise here as Clyde’s brother Buck, playing really close to the chest as an actor. Great performances abound, though, and it is hard to single anyone out.

Does anyone notice any similarities to Breathless? If you noticed, I gotta give you credit. Director Arthur Penn intentionally took from the French New Wave for Bonnie and Clyde to give the movie a youthful, vibrant look. From the turn-on-a-dime shift in tones to the editing styles, this is a movie that lives and breathes French cinema. I HIGHLY recommend watching Breathless or The 400 Blows if you like this movie. It might not be American, and I know you guys don’t like to “read your movies”, but trust me on this.

As I mentioned earlier, there are some scenes of quick graphic violence and a couple (near) sexual encounters. But this was a major Hollywood film, and in 1967, that just was not done. But its enormous success at the box office told Hollywood that maybe, just maybe, people WANT to see sex and violence in their films. This film’s lasting appeal for me will always be that it broke down some of the barriers that Hollywood put it around itself. Even today, we still have to deal with a number of ridiculous rules and demands of self-policing commissions and associations trying to demonize sex and violence, but after Bonnie and Clyde, portraying controversial material became a little easier for the filmmaker, and isn’t that always a good thing?

This one is a damn fine movie. It’s breezy, it’s fun, it’s interesting.  What more could you ask for? Full of hot young actors who are now a bunch of wizened old wrinkle-factories and a director who knows all the right people to rip off, it’s worth your time. Watch it sometime this week, at least for its significance to film! I give Bonnie and Clyde 9 rag-tag bunches out of 10! A high recommendation!

Keep tuned in for my next review of the day, when I’ll be watching… Holy shit… King Kung Fu. Uh… Well, strap yourselves in for that one, kids!

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