This is a stick-up, see?
BQB here with another classic movie review.
After watching The Highwaymen, Netflix recommended that I watch the 1967 “Bonnie and Clyde” and who am I to argue with a streaming service’s AI?
I’d heard rave reviews over the years but personally, I’m not sure it holds up to modern standards. Then again, it’s interesting as a snapshot in time and most likely pushed every boundary in place in 1967.
Faye Dunaway is epically boner inducing as truck stop waitress Bonnie Parker. An early scene where she is close to in the buff makes me wish I’d worked out more and gotten more money so I could have nabbed a dame even half as hot but oh well. Que sera, sera.
And that near nudity was probably pushing the envelope in the 1960s.
Meanwhile, having hailed from Generation X, I’m used to an older version of Warren Beatty, so it was interesting to see him so young and full of life here.
The writing is a little lackluster. It almost seems like there was a checklist of known info about the infamous, murderous bank robbing duo that they had to get through. Sometimes some leaps are taken and we’re left to guess what happened in the interim.
Clyde, for some reason, is unwilling to schtup Bonnie and that’s a shame because she is so schtuppable. I’m not sure what the implication is there. Perhaps it is meant to say he’s gay, though he’s never seen chasing after men. That would probably have been too much for the 1960s.
Then again, it may not have been to say that he’s gay, but he just had some intimacy issues. He does seem to like women but maybe he’s afraid to get too close or something. We just see several scenes where Bonnie throws herself at him, he refuses, says he’s not a loverboy and the meaning we are left to guess at.
Rounding out the gang are Clyde’s brother and sister in law, Buck and Blanche Barrow (Gene Hackman and to my surprise, a young Estelle Parsons who I had only known as Roseanne’s grumpy mother) and Michael Pollard as dopey mechanic CW Moss who comes along for the ride to service the multitude of cars stolen by the gang.
The gang dynamic is basically Bonnie and Clyde started a gang, felt they had to invite Buck along to join the family business, and Blanche just seems to get in the way as she doesn’t really want to be in a gang but followed her husband for the ride because long ago, women just did whatever their husbands told them to do. Her constant screaming is annoying but that is the point. She wasn’t down for that life.
On one level, the movie is not all that realistic. Bonnie and Clyde are presented as just a couple of country kids who had it rough and made a living the only way the Depression Era would let them. They’re portrayed as taking steps to avoid shooting cops and feel great remorse when a mistake in a robbery’s execution leads them to having to shoot an officer. Most accounts differ though and it seems pretty clear that the gang had a grand old time shooting and robbing their way through life, that they racked up a pretty needlessly high body count and never lost sleep over it.
On another level, the movie’s main contribution to the cinematic world is realism. In most movies, even today, deaths are throwaways. Someone is shot and they’re down, off screen, never seen again.
Here, we see death in all its brutality. Buck is shot and attended to as he dies slowly, wailing in pain. Bonnie and Clyde’s car is riddled with bullets. We see the look of fear in their eyes when they realize they’ve walked into an ambush, the grim realization taking hold of them that their jig is up. We see the bullets tear holes in the car, tear holes through their bodies, their lifeless bodies torn apart. This was definitely another line crossed in 1960s cinema and ironically, is a line that is even rarely crossed today.
Also noteworthy is these two were basically America’s first reality stars. They took photos and wrote poems about themselves, sending their own media to the newspapers and with it being the Great Depression, robbed banks didn’t get a lot of sympathy. However, I prefer “The Highwaymen” portraying the officers as the real heroes.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Every man should have their own Faye Dunaway.