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BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967) ****

How many times have you watched a movie that’s supposed to be this great American classic and it just turns out to be kinda so-so?  Take Gone with the Wind for example.  Sure, you can admire it for the cinematography, direction, and the badass performance by Clark Gable, but it’s mostly just one big long-winded trip to Dullsville.  Bonnie and Clyde on the other hand is an American classic that deserves all the accolades it gets.  In fact, it probably plays better today than it did when it was first released because no stupid studio would ever go for that downbeat ending nowadays.  But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

 

Bonnie and Clyde (Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty) are Depression era outlaws that go gallivanting around the south robbing banks.  Bonnie gets off on the thrill but poor old Clyde can’t get it up for her; which puts a crimp in their relationship.  When Clyde’s brother (Gene Hackman) and annoying wife (Estelle Parsons) join the fugitives, it drives a wedge between him and Bonnie and leads to their inevitable downfall.

 

I don’t think it’s necessary to throw up a spoiler warning here when talking about the ending of Bonnie and Clyde because it’s one of the most famous in the history of cinema.  Still, if you haven’t seen it; skip this paragraph just in case.  I love this ending.  Like the whole impotency subplot, it’s an ingenious way to throw a monkey wrench into your usual outlaw picture.  If this movie had been made under the Hays Code, the duo would’ve gotten their comeuppance to be sure, but since it was made in ’67 under the “New Hollywood” era, we get to see their demise by a hail of gunfire in graphic slow motion.  Watching our heroes die so violently and gratuitously gives us lots of conflicting emotions.  On one hand we wanted to see them get away, even though we know that the law was going to eventually catch up with them, so their death is upsetting in that respect.  Then director Arthur Penn really rubs our noses in the death by using super slow motion so we can see every single bullet hit.  It’s as if he’s saying, “Sure, you like these people and they’re a lot of laughs and all; but they are really the BAD GUYS here, folks!  Crime doesn’t pay!”  And the way Penn filmed the ending is beautiful too.  The only person I can think of that can do slow motion like this is John Woo.  And if that isn’t a compliment, I don’t know what is.

 

Then there’s the cast, which is among the best ever assembled for a motion picture.  Dunaway has never been better or hotter.  I mean that opening scene where she’s wandering around the house naked is super sexy.  And you don’t even get to see anything!  Just those brief glimpses of flesh and that little sultry “Come hither” look she gives is enough to make your pulse go up a couple notches.  And Beatty is straight-up awesome.  Like Dunaway, he showed that he was more than just a pretty face and gives the performance of his career.  Hackman is quite good also.  This is back when he was still young hungry and actually gave a shit.  I think the best performance in the whole movie though comes courtesy of Gene Wilder as the guy who inadvertently takes a joy ride with Bonnie and Clyde’s gang.  Sure, his role is little more than just a bit part, but he had me cracking up.  Out of all these great actors, only Parsons managed to snag an Oscar for her work.  I’m not saying that she isn’t good or anything; it’s just that she’s easily the least impressive one in the cast.  That’s OK though because Bonnie and Clyde is just one of those pitch perfect movies that will only get better as time goes on.

 

If after this movie you’re still aching for another Penn-Beatty fix; then check out the criminally underrated Mickey One.

 

Bonnie and Clyde is on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of 1967 at the Number 2 spot; placing it in between The Dirty Dozen and This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse.

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Comments

( 5 comments — Comment )
(Anonymous)
Dec. 11th, 2012 08:42 pm (UTC)
Hate
I'm actually one of the few people that don't really care for Bonnie and Clyde. Frankly, it just glamourizes murderers and that's my major problem with it.
thevideovacuum
Dec. 12th, 2012 02:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Hate
And something like The Godfather doesn't?
(Anonymous)
Dec. 12th, 2012 06:46 pm (UTC)
I know
But the people in The Godfather didn't really exist. And two, the mob was more civilized than Bonnie and Clyde. They still were murderers but they weren't Bonnie and Clyde. If were going to compare Bonnie and Clyde to anything it would be Mickey and Mallory from the Natural Born Killers movie.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 14th, 2012 07:34 am (UTC)
LOVELL
Why don't you try adding my comments next time, you stupid sucky reviewing bastard. You have as much right to spout your opinion about movies and any other jerkwad on the internet.
thevideovacuum
Dec. 14th, 2012 11:32 am (UTC)
Re: LOVELL
I did add your comments. I don't know why you are all bent out of shape about the whole comments thing.
( 5 comments — Comment )

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