Sunday, January 10, 2021

Bonnie and Clyde

Movie Name:
Bonnie and Clyde
Year of Release: 1967
Director: Arthur Penn
Starring: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Denver Pyle, Dub Taylor, Evans Evans, Gene Wilder
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
One of the most interesting books I've read on the making of films, hails from writer Mark Harris, and it's called "Pictures at a Revolution", and details the arduous journey for a few films that became iconic in 1967, make their way to the screen (the author specifically traces the origins of all 5 films which were nominated for Best Picture). One of the most interesting films to come out that year was of course "Bonnie and Clyde". It was the first script of future acclaimed director Robert Benton, and his usual writer partner, David Newman. The film follows the story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in 1934. They meet when he's about to steal a car, and have an instant attraction to each other. Although that attraction is strong, they have some hurdles with their physical intimacy, but that doesn't prevent them from starting a relationship. They both decide to embark on a life of crime, robbing banks primarily, never intending on hurting anyone in the process. They soon amass a reputation, and some additional people for their gang, including the young C.W. and Clyde's older brother, Buck, alongside his wife, the high strung Blanche. As their looting keeps escalating, so does their reputation and the number of policemen on their trail.
One of the interesting things to come out of reading Mark Harris's book is learning about the fact that some of the original directors sought for the film included Fran├žois Truffaut, and later on when he decided to pass, Jean-Luc Godard. Both of course are well known for their masterful films but also because they were at the genesis of the Nouvelle Vague. The goal for the film was essentially to be more in line with that style which was brought forth by the French masters: a documentary style, with less artifice, closer to realism than the typical product manufactured by the studios. Arthur Penn, who had already worked with Warren Beatty on "Mickey One", was well known in theater, and managed to bring to "Bonnie and Clyde" the type of urgency and energy the material needed. The film manages to deftly and briefly characterize the characters, and as the group grows, the communal relationships between them all are also swiftly established. The film manages to have this spontaneous aspect to it, while also capturing the times in which it takes place, alongside the evolution of the relationship between Bonnie and Clyde, including their longings and fears (death always looming by). It's an iconic film that lives from its varied cast of characters and actors, with Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman and Estelle Parsons, all crafting indelible performances. Always worth watching.