Directed by: Arthur Penn
Written by: David Newman & Robert Benton
Starring: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons
Outlaws out on the run can create for an exciting life, which is what initially united the two titular characters of this controversial film. Then what begins with smaller crimes turns into a fame-making line of work for everyone involved. With this story, which has inspired many other movies, Bonnie and Clyde shows the rise of celebrity and broke the barriers for what could be seen at the movies.
In a Great Depression-era Texas town, Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) meets Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) when the former attempts to steal the latter’s mother’s vehicle. With Bonnie living a boring life, she decides to hitch a ride to an exciting one of petty crime, which launches them into celebrity status.
It’s not difficult to watch this film and see how the actions by the titular characters have inspired films like Badlands, Natural Born Killers, in addition to all of the terrible rip-offs. This story has the power to make several stories similar to it because the rise of these two individuals serves as a historical moment in American history where two folks from Texas went on a spree that captured the attention of an entire nation. It made them one of the first instances of celebrities, as they became known for robbing banks, which often involved getting people killed. They were cheered on by the common folk and those who could witness the burglaries would cheer it on as if they were watching a sporting event. Bonnie and Clyde make for fascinating figures and the film does them justice.
Portraying the famous couple are Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, who each captured a sexual aura around them in the film that made it inevitable for them to get together. Their meeting would not be classified as the typical meet-cute of romance stories, but their journey together demonstrated characters unafraid to be sexual with one another. Something incredibly groundbreaking in 1967, when it first dropped in theaters. This film’s predilection to showing somewhat sexual behavior and violence pushed the boundaries of its time. It may seem tame now, but it undoubtedly left a mark in the 1960s. The casting of Beatty and Dunaway makes them the perfect pair as they had the looks and swagger to portray individuals who made the world stand still for them.
The story creates for an alluring situation where two people feeling restricted in their lives left it all for unrestricted freedom. No one could tell them what to do. Society’s standards and the rule of law could be damned in their minds, which gives the perception of control in an era where nobody had any. The Great Depression brought much job loss and pain for people across the nation, but Bonnie and Clyde were as happy as the richest people around. They found that with each other and the new lifestyle. The film captures the joy they feel with each other even with their fights and arguments. They saved each other and their work provided entertainment for people struggling in their lives.
It comes together with its cinematography and the way it captures a specific part of the country. The lighting perfectly outlines the characters and the environment they find themselves in. Through the different towns they travel to, they remain in what is considered the least glamorous part of the country but it’s made to look so well in this film. From the moments they share in the car or in their home, the camera loves both Beatty and Dunaway as they lure you into this lifestyle and cheer them on despite their love of crime in addition to killing and humiliating anyone who gets in their way.
As trailblazing as it is provocative, Bonnie and Clyde feels like an American classic. While some of the films inspired by it made better features, this biographical look back at these two iconic figures shows a time where the common person clamored for something scandalous, and these two provided it for them. They lived the lives others could only dream of, which made this film something of a marvel. Well-crafted from its technicals, to the acting, and direction, it allows the audience to have fun in the sun and get involved with one of the most notorious folks to ever have their name across a newspaper headline.