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Having seen BONNIE AND CLYDE a number of times growing up, but never really connecting with it, I wanted to give it another view and watch it with fresh eyes. Loosely based on the true exploits of the notorious Depression-era bank robbers Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, the film is a violent opus that ushered in a new age of filmmaking and still packs a punch even to this day. 

Recently paroled from prison, Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) meets Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) while trying to steal her mother’s car. Bonnie is a free spirit who recognizes in herself that she’s not made for the rest of the world and craves a life of adventure. She finds it with Clyde even though the adventure that he takes her on will lead them both down a dark route that will ultimately lead to their undoing. 

Expanding their group, they add Clyde’s brother Buck (Gene Hackman) and his, at first, reluctant wife Blanche (Estelle Parsons). Also joining the merry band of thieves is C.W. Moss (Michael J. Pollard), a whiz with cars and the fast getaway. 

What starts as a laugh, quickly devolves into a nightmare when a man is shot and killed during one of their robberies. Flaunting their illegal ways, they quickly become media darlings, but also have huge targets painted on their backs, as every lawman in the region is gunning for them. 

As the reality of their situation begins to sink in, the violence escalates as the inevitable conclusion to Bonnie and Clyde’s whirlwind love affair comes to its bloody end. 

Praised by critics and garnering many nominations and awards, BONNIE AND CLYDE is important for how it influenced cinema as a whole and ushered in a new level of violence on screen. 

Directed by Arthur Penn (LITTLE BIG MAN), the film does meander at times, but still is consistent enough in its tone and pacing to be worthy of its acclaim. It also provided star-making performances for the entire young cast with Estelle Parsons winning a Best Supporting Oscar and the others garnering nominations. The film also featured the debut of Gene Wilder, who would later that same year, have his breakout role in Mel Brooks’ THE PRODUCERS (1967). 

I thoroughly enjoyed the film more than I thought I might and clearly see why it’s a classic. I recommend checking it out especially if you are a student of cinema and want to watch films that had a legitimate impact on the way films are made today.

MAY 24, 2014