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Bonnie and Clyde More at IMDbPro »

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15 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

The kickoff in the debate about cinematic violence

Author: virek213 from San Gabriel, Ca., USA
17 July 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There is very little doubt that Arthur Penn's 1967 film BONNIE AND CLYDE is a masterpiece of its era. Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty portray the two notorious Depression-era bank robbers of the Midwest with great zeal; and even though the REAL story is over-romanticized by screenwriters David Newman and Robert Benton, it still crackles with excitement. Estelle Parsons won a Best Supporting Actress role as Blanche Barrow, and Burnet Guffey won a statuette for Cinematography. The film also introduced us to Gene Wilder and Michael J. Pollard, as well as made a certified star out of Gene Hackman. Dub Taylor also appears as Pollard's strict father.

All of these elements are what make BONNIE AND CLYDE a great movie. But what gives this film historical importance is that it kicked off the debate about graphic violence in the movies that continues to this day. The minute Beatty is forced to put a bullet through a shopkeeper's eye during a fumbled grocery store hold-up marked the end of clean violence. The film escalates to Hackman's getting his head blown off, Beatty being blasted in the shoulder, and finally the thirty-second sequence at the end of Beatty and Dunaway taking hundreds of bullets. The impact of such scenes still remains, even though the epic carnage of THE WILD BUNCH was only two years away.

Such controversial elements aside, BONNIE AND CLYDE accurately captures the feel of Depression-era America and gives it a parallel to the rebellion taking place in the America of 1967. It is also boosted by a twangy folk-music score, including Flatt and Scruggs' hard-driving "Foggy Mountain Breakdown." Not to be missed!

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

"We rob banks"

Author: ackstasis from Australia
12 May 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In 1967, two films ushered in a new wave of Hollywood film. Mike Nichol's 'The Graduate (1967)' introduced casual sexuality into the mix, with young graduate Dustin Hoffman enjoying a tryst with Anne Bancroft's Mrs. Robinson, highlighting the vast generation gap between the Baby Boomers and their parents. Arthur Penn's 'Bonnie and Clyde (1967),' likewise, pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable to show in film, featuring glorious set-pieces of violence that would influence the later work of Sam Peckinpah and Martin Scorsese. This new brand of authentic yet stylised brutality may have been borrowed from Spaghetti Western director Sergio Leone, whose own "Dollars" trilogy had proved successful with American audiences {his Hollywood-funded follow-up, 'Once Upon a Time in the West (1968),' was a magnificent film, but noticeably toned down the violence}. Many reviewers were initially indifferent to Penn's picture, and Warner Brothers had little faith in its financial prospects, but the support of critics like Pauline Kael prompted a swift reevaluation, and 'Bonnie and Clyde' was soon a box-office hit.

Despite being set in the 1930s, and, of course, based on true events, Penn's retelling of the Bonnie and Clyde story overtly reflected the revolutionary cultural times in which the film was made. The two titular fugitives symbolised the attitudes of the young people of the day – brash, impudent, dismissive of authority, and indifferent as to the consequences of their actions. Intriguingly, 'Bonnie and Clyde' appears to suggest that something more than mere anarchistic tendencies fuelled the pair's violent escapades. Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) is portrayed as sexually impotent, and a lengthy, uncomfortable would-be sex scene emphasises the self-loathing frustration that, perhaps, fuelled his personal inadequacy and prompted him to seek other, more destructive means of alleviating his stress and exhibiting his masculinity. Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) is depicted as a young woman whose sexual repression at the hands of a well-meaning but morally-uptight mother has stifled her femininity, and only through societal rebellion does she appear to regain her sense of identity. This theme ties in nicely with the Women's Liberation of the 1960s.

Beatty and Dunaway are perfect in the two leading roles, displaying enough charisma and sex appeal to come across as likable, but also inspiring sympathy and disapproval for their clearly irresponsible and reprehensible behaviour (the film initially provoked controversy for its perceived "glorification" of criminals, but, though the audience's empathy is recruited to some extent, the destructive and inevitable consequences of the gang's actions are hardly glossed over). The famous, gruesome climax – in which Bonnie and Clyde are apathetically gunned down in a bloody police ambush – was perhaps the most intense minute of cinema American audiences had ever experienced. Of course, once the floodgates were opened, New Hollywood began to adopt his fresh, powerful frankness in its storytelling. Sam Peckinpah, no doubt inspired by Penn's efforts, decisively raised the bar with his Revisionist Western 'The Wild Bunch (1969).' A landmark American film, 'Bonnie and Clyde' furthered the reputations of both its director and star Warren Beatty, and successfully launched the acting careers of Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman and Gene Wilder.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Bloodshed in the American Dustbowl...

Author: moonspinner55 from las vegas, nv
7 October 2008

Although numerous chapters in cinema manuals have been dedicated to Arthur Penn's violent, jagged, cynical "Bonnie and Clyde"--and, indeed, it kick-started a new permissiveness in America movies which then generated many imitations--the first twenty or so minutes of the picture are really awful. Depression-era waitress, bored and thrill seeking, finds herself drawn to a smooth-talking, reckless hood, an ex-con who, when playfully dared to, robs a general store right in front of her. He's sexually impotent but does have a sympathetic heart for the unfortunates and the working class; she's a high-wire act, strictly amoral and greedy. Their initial meeting outside her house has all the conventions of a standard 1930s drama--and just because the movie's look is generally correct doesn't mean what's happening on the screen is original. Producer Warren Beatty and screenwriters Robert Benton and David Newman envisioned the French New Wave in regards to the film's approach and style, and their efforts paid off in this respect (it's a very good-looking picture, shot by Burnett Guffey, who won an Oscar). However, Arthur Penn's direction isn't visionary, and the multiple car-riding shots with back projection don't seem to break new ground. The film's greatest achievement aside from its textured look and feel is the casting: Beatty and Faye Dunaway do pretty marvelous work in the leads; Gene Hackman and Estelle Parsons also fine as Clyde's brother and sister-in-law (Parsons won the film's second of two Oscars as Best Supporting Actress). The violence grows increasingly, steadily, as the film inches toward its queasy conclusion, while Penn juggles (successfully at times) ribald character moments with deadly serious--and bloody--scenes (which also became fashionable). The sweat and the flies, the downtrodden and the righteous, they all get a work-out in this scenario, which, in its best moments, has a prickly-comic and dangerous edge. **1/2 from ****

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Good, but with some issues

Author: bull-frog from United States
1 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Bonnie and Clyde takes place in 30s depression stricken Texas and other central states. This film was among the first or perhaps the very first film to show real blood and realistic violence. Films like Bonnie and Clyde helped bring down the strict grip the censors placed on films. Bonnie and Clyde takes you through an adventure in violence and wrongdoing. And at the end they get what they deserve. Although the ending is nothing new, the brutality and grotesqueness of it was groundbreaking for its time.

I do wish more time was taken to develop the characters and their partnership. It seemed like the film just rushed in to the shooting and violence. I thought the two lead characters did a fine job. But I did not however, like the roles of Hackman and Parsons. Their overacting was a distraction. Particularly that of Parson, who's screaming and yelling is annoying. Also, the kid's role to me was a mystery. He was little more than a background distraction. Except for those things, the movie was good overall.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The turning point from Hollywood's moribund studio system to the impending youthquake of the 1970s.

Author: G K from Mars
30 June 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film works as comedy, as tragedy, as entertainment, as a meditation on the place of guns and violence in American society. In the early 1930s, a car thief (Warren Beatty) and the daughter (Faye Dunaway) of his intended victim team up to become America's most feared and ruthless bank robbers.

Bonnie And Clyde is a technically brilliant evocation of sleepy mid-America at the time of the 'Public Enemies,' using every kind of cinematic trick including fake snapshots, farcical interludes, dreamy soft-focus and a jazzy score. It failed to draw sizeable audiences or overwhelmingly positive reviews on its immediate release, and the studio effectively dumped it. But among its champions, it became a huge talking point: no-one had seen such glamorisation of criminals in a mainstream studio film, nor the abrupt switches of mood between comic moments and murderous brutality. Director Arthur Penn drew on the French New Wave auteurs for his visual style, and to earlier American B-films (notably Gun Crazy) that had in turn inspired them. The film looked chic, cool and ground-breaking, and eventually audiences - and awards - came its way. It remains a landmark American film.

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9 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

breaking the wave

Author: mcfloodhorse from Denver and Copenhagen
27 February 2009

Rocking the cinema several years after the French New Wave and its deconstructivist approach to established film syntax, "Bonnie and Clyde" isn't so much an experiment in iconoclasm as it is a post-modern (re-)construction of the gangster film as a true American folktale fantasy. The existential vacuousness pervading the Nouvelle Vague finds renewed expression in the eerily empty landscapes and towns, in Clyde's charismatic ambivalence toward crime, and in Bonnie's charmingly fatalist poetry.

Yet Arthur Penn wisely replaces French frivolousness with the profound tension and despair of Depression-era dilapidation. Although it's a damn funny film, all the laughs are constrained by a sense of impending doom. Seeing Clyde hand his gun over to a pair of oldtimers so they can shoot at their now repossessed home they themselves built, acts as a snapshot of the titular characters' exploits: briefly gratifying, enduringly defiant, but essentially futile.

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15 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Any Subject Whatsoever!

Author: dataconflossmoor-1 from United States
11 April 2011

The year was 1967, a groundbreaking year for movies, the Academy Award nominees were: "The Graduate" "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner", "In The Heat Of The Night" "Dr Doolittle" and, last, but certainly not least, "Bonnie and Clyde". All of these films have received the highest form of critical acclaim from one movie critic or another, hence, 1967 became a revolutionary year for film making. Focusing on the movie "Bonnie and Clyde", AFI (American Film Institute) rates "Bonnie and Clyde" the 27th best picture out of the top 100 American films ever made. I wholeheartedly concur with this assessment, yet, others may not, and, here is where a great deal of the movie audience members are seemingly missing the boat. When mentioning to people that "Bonnie and Clyde" is one of the best films to ever be produced, many moviegoers will get very disparaging and say: "I don't like gangster films, a movie like that is probably very good, but, a glorified cops and robbers flick could not possibly be one of the best movies ever made"... This is a preconceived notion which is totally erroneous! While many hoodlum bank heist movies are filled with turgid rhetoric, and evoke a sort of sinister adolescent mindset, "Bonnie and Clyde" assertively differentiates itself from the run of the mill. Brilliant acting, directing, and the sophisticated concept of colorfully accurate costuming, establishes "Bonnie and Clyde" as a stellar production in the Hollywood paradigm for films. It is true that many genres run a higher risk of being easily categorized as "stilted" more than others, and, gangster flicks are indeed, films which frequently fall into that classification. In the case of "Bonnie and Clyde", however, labeling it just another flashy and overbearing gangster movie would be an egregious miscarriage of justice.!! The picture "Bonnie and Clyde" establishes a set of vitriolic circumstances which create a vivid aura of insurrection from the anti-establishment. This was a technique that became the most effective form of entertainment to mesmerize the movie audience!! As a result, "Bonnie and Clyde" initiated a cinematic precedent by advocating the proverbial dark horse philosophy which other movies followed suit on back in the late sixties! Such a high profile presentation of early twentieth century bank robbing chicanery establishes a bevy of hard bitten accuracy through depraved channels of belligerence and rudimentary lust! Subsequently, this film became an acrimonious portrayal of the cause and effect traumas of the Great Depression! This major motion picture purports an authenticity to the aggregate rancor which prevailed between dangerous gangsters, and the officials working for the law during the late 1920's and early 1930's. The hostile fragility contained in the conversations with everyone signified a defensive reflex that criminals like Bonnie and Clyde harbored to vindicate their heinous acts of violence and robbery. This was one of the first films to depict the disconcerting scenario where the good guys and the bad guys are not sequestered by ethical polarization. The Great Depression demoralized virtually all U.S. citizens in one way or another! Invariably, poverty becomes the culprit to adversity, adversity brings about illicit behavior, and bandits such as Bonnie and Clyde are by products of this entire dilemma. Capital crimes served a purpose to flaunt a formidable individuality and acknowledgment for the nefarious perpetrators involved. While "Bonnie and Clyde" did not win for best picture in 1967, (That award was given to "In The Heat of the Night") "Bonnie and Clyde" had an irrevocable impact on the cinema world back in 1967. This is mostly on account of the fact that "Bonnie and Clyde" exuded an intensely haunting realism through the implementation of an absolutely fascinating and acutely glamorous dynamic. The acting was so incredible in this movie: It comprises of: Warren Beaty ( Actor, director, writer, producer, and, oh yeah!! Ladies Man!!). Faye Dunaway (World renown actress, particularly for her roles in "Chinatown" and "Network"). Gene Hackman, (Basically the best in the business; Famous for "French Connection" and "The Conversation" to name a couple). Gene Wilder, (Hysterically funny! and, star of "Young Frankenstein").In addition, this movie contained a host of other great performers, including Estelle Parsons, Parsons won the Oscar for best supporting actress with this role. The timing to the volatility, the emotions, and the archaic introductory harbinger to realistic violence in "Bonnie and Clyde" are sensational! "Bonnie and Clyde" is a cunningly successful masterpiece in the Hollywood repertoire of major motion pictures. The cinematography, and the camera angles to the movie "Bonnie and Clyde" manufactured a cannon of creativity which made this movie production truly innovative! Director, Arthur Penn, ascertains a succinct articulation of the pejorative human element with this film. This enables the movie audience to garner a precarious camaraderie with the dubious plight of wanted criminals. The invidious disposition to this movie's desultorily criminal Depression laden era formats a situation whereby the purveyors of societal injustice are cavorting around on both sides of the law! Whether a movie is about elusive New Yorkers, space time continua, or visceral bank robbing thugs during the Depression, the key to making a remarkable movie is predicated on the superb manner in which the movie is produced! Essentially, a film is judged by how it is auspiciously consummated from head to toe! With the coveted accolade of being up for nine Academy Award nominations back in 1967, "Bonnie and Clyde" should be commended as being one of the greatest American films ever made!! ABSOLUTELY SPECTACULAR!!

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21 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Faded Genius

Author: tedg ( from Virginia Beach
7 June 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoilers herein.

Warren Beatty was a budding genius when this was made -- sort of an Orson Welles. Determined to bring then novel French sensibilites to Hollywood, he created a specific vision. Most films are about other films, and all the references here are French.

This film transformed Hollywood, and launched a dozen or so major careers. It is a milestone and should be seen on that basis alone. But its value in its time was that it was so different. I remember seeing it when it was new, in the brief period before it was withdrawn in failure. (It later came back.) That first screening was a shock: the shot in the face at the bank, the two shots in the face of the brother and wife, the dancing bodies at the end were different, but the real shock was the expanding of our collective eye. You had to be there -- its not the same now.

The reason it doesn't have that same effect today is because it was so successful in setting a new tone. But two scenes still have power: the first scene with a nearly nude desperate Faye whose eye just happens on enough to make a situation out of. This has an idealist film concept behind it, a presentation that is still modern and abstract.

The second scene is the meeting of Bonnie's family at a picnic with CW standing guard. The film is washed yellow and overexposed. The action is close to what an amateur might film at a real picnic. But its realness makes it stand out at the most artificial scene in the film, the center that in other films would be set by a narrator or chorus.

Beatty would go on to make two other groundbreaking film, `Reds,' and `Shampoo,' and then he lost his vision. Dick Tracy was ambitious and beyond his means, and we lost a great talent. What we have now is `Bulworth,' how sad.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

"I'm from Wisconsin originally, where the cheese comes from."

Author: oOoBarracuda from United States
2 June 2016

The story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow is the stuff of folklore legend. Arthur Penn brought the legend to the big screen in his 1967 feature starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in the film Bonnie and Clyde. Telling the story of a criminal duo bound together by a love for each other and a lust for robbing banks, Bonnie and Clyde is a seminal work to come out of the 1960's. Finding a place in the world can lead some people to interesting places and life experiences, never more apparent than with the story of Bonnie and Clyde.

After a chance meeting when a young Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) is attempting to break into waitress Bonnie Parker's (Faye Dunaway) mother's car, the two instantly fall in love. Smitten with the stories of Clyde's travels and criminal past, Bonnie decides to leave her humdrum existence in Texas and follow Clyde as he treks across the country, state by state, looking for vulnerable banks to rob and cars to steal. Attached to no one but each other, the two remain solely focused on travel and fun, by any means to attain both. Although the two are never without a loaded gun, it is not their desire to hurt anyone, or take any individual's money, only the money in the banks. Also in their tight circle are Clyde's brother Buck Barrow (Gene Hackman), his wife Blanche (Estelle Parsons), and C.W. Moss (Michael J. Pollard) a meager mechanic. As the notoriety regarding the Barrow gang spreads from state to state faster than they do, many people are on the hunt for the group looking to bring about their death or capture for a profit. With only each other to rely on, the Barrow gang attempts to outrun all others and keep their lifestyles and lives intact.

The film starts off in a great way with title cards and real pictures of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow adding to the mystique of the duo. The thing that worked best in this film was its pacing, Arthur Penn wasted no time delving into the depths of the story, introducing the two love birds and sending them off to a life of crime together all in the first 20 minutes of the film. The color in this film was fantastic, flexing the muscles that color films from the 60's could have, which is often overlooked. Gene Hackman was fantastic in this role as the doting, take charge, brother yet adoring husband. The music was also a highlight of the feature, especially in its fantastic use of diegetic sound. Each piece of this film's puzzle comes together in a beautiful fashion all the way through the powerful final scene.

Bonnie and Clyde would be the first film role for Gene Wilder, and he acted his limited part with exceptional nuance. Adding subtle comedy to the scene, as only Gene Wilder could do, was never envisioned by director Arthur Penn. Being pleasantly surprised by the comedic rendition, Penn left it as is creating a type of character we would see Gene capture in many films to come. The gentle yet manic character that teeters a line only Wilder can walk is one audiences can still be thankful for to this day. I am thankful for Arthur Penn's wonderful film Bonnie and Clyde and the introduction of Gene WIlder through it.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Does Iconic Mean Good?

Author: inspectors71 from Fly-Over Country
18 May 2016

I've seen Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde enough times to be able to dissect its film-making and psychology. It is a brilliant movie, but the brilliance is as much from the breaking of ground as anything. I can barely stand Faye Dunaway, a walking mannequin whose only good performance--I mean really watchable--is the damaged-beyond-repair Evelyn Mulwray from Chinatown.

Warren Beatty has always given me the creeps, even when he was handsome and charming and likable in Heaven Can Wait. Gene Hackman has done very little wrong (although Riot does come to mind).

With the major and minor performers out of the way, we can concentrate on the story, the never-been-done-before level of sex and violence issues, and the feeling that we're seeing something big, really big here.

I read one of the great reviews of this movie by Pauline Kael of the New Yorker. I remember the elegant and personal chattiness of the writing, and I had seen the movie, so I could personalize her writing.

I have no intention of going too deeply into what Penn created, nor will I write anything close to a synopsis, mainly because the movie is such an iconic piece of artwork, and it's so deeply ingrained in our culture, that to write about the who, what, and why stuff would be overkill (kind of like the last scene in the movie, right?).

I recommend Bonnie and Clyde because it is a fascinating story, filled with the sort of rebellion that was so popular in the 1960s, because, even though I said I don't like the two principal performers in the movie, I think Dunaway and Beatty have a great, visceral commonality/chemistry.

Even though the movie isn't terribly historically accurate, the viewer gets the feeling he or she is watching a film of significant historical and psychological importance.

And to watch the movie from the position that Bonnie and Clyde is a comedy, until that man takes a bullet right in the face, and the audience sobers up very quickly, is a testament to Penn's storytelling. You're chuckling right up to that moment.

It's not a cheap shot, it's how a great director manipulates an audience.

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