BONNIE AND CLYDE ( 1967 )
Bonnie and Clyde is based on the true stories of the gangster pair Bonnie Parker and Clyde Parker who in the 1930’s began robbing banks in all the main US cities until they were eventually killed. The film takes on the aesthetical movement of New Hollywood.Producer/star Warren Beatty had to convince Warner Bros. to finance this film, which went on to become the studio’s second-highest grosser. It also caused major controversy by redefining violence in cinema and casting its criminal protagonists as sympathetic anti-heroes. Based loosely on the true exploits of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker during the 30s, the film begins as Clyde (Beatty) tries to steal the car of Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway)’s mother. Bonnie is excited by Clyde’s outlaw demeanor, and he further stimulates her by robbing a store in her presence. Clyde steals a car, with Bonnie in tow, and their legendary crime spree begins. In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #42 Greatest Movie of All Time. 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. Michael J. Pollard’s character, C.W. Moss, is a fictional conglomeration of all of Bonnie and Clyde’s minor sidekicks including: Ralph Fults (their first sidekick), William Daniel Jones (nicknamed “W.D.” and “Deacon”, and was an attendant at the gas station owned by Clyde’s father), Ray Hamilton, and Henry Methvin (who’s father made the deal with Frank Hamer to set Bonnie and Clyde up). The first choice for director, François Truffaut, expressed a keen interest in the project and may have even been involved in the development of the screenplay. However, before filming could begin, the opportunity arose for Truffaut to make Fahrenheit 451, a long-cherished project of his, and he dropped out to make that film instead. After François Truffaut’s departure from the project, the producers approached Jean-Luc Godard. Some sources claim Godard didn’t trust Hollywood and refused; other allege he planned to change Bonnie and Clyde to teenagers and relocate the story to Japan, prompting the film’s investors to force him off the project. Warner Bros. gave the movie a limited, “B” movie-type release at first, sending it to drive-ins and lesser theaters. When critics began raving about the film and young people began to show up at screenings, it was better promoted, given a wider release and became a huge hit. Thousand of berets were sold worldwide after Faye Dunaway wore them in this film. Other actresses considered for the role of Bonnie Parker included Tuesday Weld, Ann-Margret, Carol Lynley and Sue Lyon. The poem that Bonnie is reading as the police open fire on the rented flat is “The Story of Suicide Sal” written by Bonnie Parker in 1932. The movie that Bonnie and Clyde go to see after their botched bank robbery when C.W. Moss parallel parked their get away car was Gold Diggers of 1933. Gene Hackman was on the set one day when he noticed a guy standing behind him and staring. The man said, “Hell, Buck would’ve never wore a hat like that.” Hackman turned around and looked at him and said, “Maybe not.” He looked like an old Texas farmer. The man introduced himself and said, “Nice to meet you – I’m one of the Barrows.” The movie’s line “We rob banks.” was voted as the #41 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100). In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #42 Greatest Movie of All Time. Ranked #5 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Gangster” in June 2008. Premiere voted this movie as one of “The 25 Most Dangerous Movies”. Bonnie Parker was 4’10” tall, nine inches shorter than Faye Dunaway. A crucial fact left out of the movie was that Bonnie Parker was virtually incapacitated for the last year of her life from a car wreck. Clyde Barrow was driving fast down a lonely country road in Texas when he came upon a washed-out bridge. Unable to stop in time, the car went over the edge crashed and into the creek. The force of the impact jarred Bonnie’s seat forward, pinning her in the car as it began to catch fire. She received severe burns on the backs of her legs that made it difficult to walk. She would either limp or was carried by Clyde. She was, in fact, injured at the time of the nighttime tourist court shootout and the field shootout (where Buck was killed) that occur near the end of the film. The story of Bonnie Parker smoking a cigar in a picture is accurate. She did it as a joke. But after the shootout at the bungalow in Joplin, MO, police found the photos the gang had taken and published the photo of Bonnie, thereby leading to her unearned rep as a “Cigar Smokin’ Gun Moll”. Near the end of the film, Bonnie and Clyde are lying in bed discussing marriage. It is interesting to note that in real life, Bonnie was already married. She had married her high school sweetheart, Roy Thorton before meeting Clyde. Thorton was a petty criminal who was sent to prison for life for murder. Despite his conviction, Bonnie never divorced him and to the day she died, Bonnie Parker was officially “Mrs. Roy Thorton”. Bonnie was still wearing Thornton’s ring when she was killed. Co-writer Robert Benton got the idea for his script from his father who had actually attended the separate funerals of Parker and Barrow. Roger Ebert had only been a film critic for six months when he saw this film and hailed it as the first masterpiece he had seen on the job.