Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde (Two-Disc Special Edition)

#27 (1998) and #42 (2007) on the AFI List of Top 100 Movies

Bonnie and Clyde is a 1967 American crime film directed by Arthur Penn and starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the title characters Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. The film features Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman, and Estelle Parsons, with Denver Pyle, Dub Taylor, Gene Wilder, Evans Evans, and Mabel Cavitt. The screenplay was written by David Newman and Robert Benton. Robert Towne and Beatty provided uncredited contributions to the script; Beatty also produced the film. The soundtrack was composed by Charles Strouse.

Bonnie and Clyde is considered a landmark film, and is regarded as one of the first films of the New Hollywood era, since it broke many cinematic taboos and was popular with the younger generation. Its success motivated other filmmakers to be more forward about presenting sex and violence in their films. The film's ending also became iconic as "one of the bloodiest death scenes in cinematic history".

The film received Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress (Estelle Parsons) and Best Cinematography (Burnett Guffey). It was among the first 100 films selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

* Warren Beatty as Clyde Barrow
* Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker
* Michael J. Pollard as C.W. Moss
* Gene Hackman as Buck Barrow
* Estelle Parsons as Blanche Barrow
* Denver Pyle as Frank Hamer
* Dub Taylor as Ivan Moss
* Gene Wilder as Eugene Grizzard
* Evans Evans as Velma Davis
* Mabel Cavitt as Mrs. Parker

Actor Gene Wilder made his film debut as Eugene Grizzard, one of Bonnie and Clyde's hostages. His girlfriend Velma Davis was played by Evans Evans, who was the wife of film director John Frankenheimer. Three years earlier, Frankenheimer had replaced Bonnie and Clyde's director Arthur Penn as director on The Train at the insistence of the film's star, Burt Lancaster.

The family gathering scene was filmed in Red Oak, Texas. Several local residents were watching the film being shot, when the filmmakers noticed Mabel Cavitt, a local school teacher, among the people gathered, who was then chosen to play Bonnie Parker's mother.

The instrumental banjo piece "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" by Flatt and Scruggs was introduced to a worldwide audience as a result of its frequent use in the movie. Its use is anachronistic, however: the bluegrass-style of music dates from the mid-1940s rather than the 1930s. Long out of print in vinyl and cassette formats, the film soundtrack album was finally released on CD in 2009.

The film considerably simplifies the lives of Bonnie and Clyde, which included other gang members, repeated jailings, other murders and a horrific auto accident that left Parker burned and a near invalid. One of the film's major characters, "C.W. Moss", is a composite of two members of the Barrow Gang: William Daniel "W.D." Jones and Henry Methvin.

The Gene Wilder-Evans Evans sequence is based on the kidnappings of the undertaker H.D. Darby and his acquaintance Sophia Stone, near Ruston, Louisiana on April 27, 1933. In the film, Velma and Eugene are romantically involved; Stone and Darby were not.

The film strays farthest from fact in its portrayal of the Texas Ranger Frank Hamer (played by Denver Pyle) as a vengeful bungler who had been captured, humiliated, and released by Bonnie and Clyde. Hamer was already a legendary Texas Ranger when he was coaxed out of semi-retirement to hunt down the duo; he had never seen them before he and his posse ambushed and killed them near Gibsland, Louisiana on May 23, 1934. In 1968, Hamer's widow and son sued the movie producers for defamation of character over his portrayal. They were awarded an out-of-court settlement in 1971.

The film portrays an unarmed and unsuspecting Clyde walking away from the car to investigate the broken down truck when he was ambushed. It suggests that Bonnie, still in their car, may also have been unarmed. Both remained in the vehicle and had weapons at the ready in the front seat; the back seat contained a dozen guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Neither outlaw got out of the car alive.

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