AFI Top 100: No. 42 Bonnie and Clyde

“We rob banks.”

Despite the fact it is pretty historically inaccurate, I think Bonnie and Clyde has vaulted itself in my personal top 10 of the list so far. Tim agreed with me, stating not even a half hour in that he likes this one. The movie is sexy, adventurous and at times funny. There were a several things I loved about the movie and a few I wasn’t overly fond of.

I’ll start with the good. The cast was awesome. Faye Dunaway is jaw-dropping beautiful in the film and Warren Beatty’s good looks help give him a devil may care attitude. I liked how they explored parts of his insecurities, such as after he killed the bank manager. Dunaway is brilliant as a Bonnie. In fact, Bonnie is an interesting character in this film. She wants to be somebody, she wants a life better than the one she left but I don’t think she knows exactly what she truly wants. Gene Hackman is great as usual.

I enjoyed the action. According to my post-movie investigating, this film was a landmark in violence in films, much like The Wild Bunch. The brutality of the duo’s demise was necessary, as were the battles they engaged in with the police. It kept you on your toes and I thought the violence and dialogue were a nice balance throughout the film.

I did have a few complaints. For one, I can’t believe Estelle Parsons won an Academy Award for that performance. All she did the entire movie was scream and whine. The real Blanche stated after the film was released that she looked “like a screaming horse’s ass.” And she truly did. Tim remarked “I may hate her more than that stupid kid from Shane.” Yup she was that annoying. I will say the scene when she was screaming and running down the street was funny… but her character had ZERO development after that.

I also thought the whole love story between Bonnie and Clyde with Clyde’s resistance was odd. It is never fully explained and there is nothing evident from history that says something like this happened so I just found it strange to include it. Tim didn’t like the choppy and quick ending, but I actually appreciated. Their death was quick and their end was abrupt and I thought the film did a good job of showing that.

The real Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker

Speaking of historical inaccuracies, I wanted to highlight a few points. My favorite podcast, “Stuff You Missed In History Class,” did an episode on Bonnie and Clyde recently. Most historians don’t think that Bonnie was the blood-thirsty, gun-moll she is portrayed to be. In fact, many accounts from eye-witnesses claim they never saw her fire a gun. This image of her was publicized through a picture of her (the frequent posing for photos was an actual part of Bonnie and Clyde’s life) that had her smoking a cigar and holding a gun. Another point I want to make is that she was actually married at the time to someone else and was wearing his ring when she and Clyde were killed. Clyde himself was a pretty bad dude who did murder a few civilians. They also were armed when they were shot up, slightly different than it was shown in the film. They also weren’t actively trying to promote themselves in the paper. Their photographs were found when they had to leave Joplin in a rush along with one of Bonnie’s poems. Additionally, her poem “Bonnie and Clyde” was published by her mother after her death. If you want to learn more about the historical figures of Bonnie and Clyde, I would suggest checking out the “Stuff You Missed In History Class” podcast. You can download it for free on iTunes.

Next Up: King Kong.


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