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"This here's Miss Bonnie Parker. I'm Clyde Barrow. We rob banks."
Bonnie and Clyde is a 1967 biopic about the famous bank-robbing duo of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, played by Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. Dunaway's Bonnie is a bored waitress who goes off with small-time crook Clyde on a lark. Bonnie and Clyde graduate to bank-robbing and murder after being joined by Clyde's brother Buck (Gene Hackman), Buck's wife Blanche (Estelle Parsons), and gas-station attendant C.W. Moss (Michael J. Pollard). The Barrow Gang becomes infamous. They capture, humiliate, and release a Texas Ranger, Frank Hamer (Denver Pyle), who swears vengeance.Bonnie and Clyde was a smash hit that made huge stars out of Beatty and Dunaway. It was nominated for ten Oscars and won two, for Best Supporting Actress (Estelle Parsons as Blanche) and Best Cinematography. It is regarded as part of the first wave of the New Hollywood movement that helped to break down the studio system and usher in a creative rebirth for Hollywood, with its increased sex and violence, glorification of anti heroes, and skepticism of authority.
Plain-faced Bonnie Parker and shrimpy little Clyde Barrow, played by foxy Faye Dunaway and handsome Warren Beatty.
Inverted with Blanche and Buck Barrow. The actors in the film are considerably dumpier-looking than their real life counterparts. In 1933, Blanche was in her early 20s, pretty and petite (here played by a 40 year old) and Buck was a good-looking guy age around 30. The producers wanted ordinary looking people for the non-headline parts.
Asshole Victim: They rob banks, which after seeing what the banks have done to the poor folks of the country by foreclosing on their property, makes them look not as bad after all. However, this description arguably better describes John Dillinger than it would the real Bonnie and Clyde.
C.W. Moss is a composite of W.D. Jones and the man who betrayed Bonnie and Cylde, Henry Methvin, and other gang members are omitted. A nasty car accident on the night of June 11, 1933 that left Bonnie with a permanently lame leg is not in the film. Frank Hamer was not kidnapped and embarrassed by the Barrow Gang; rather, he was an ex-Texas Ranger hired out of retirement by prison system administrator Lee Simmons to hunt them down. Clyde died in the car with Bonnie, instead of getting out as we see in the film. Frequent visits to their families and the fact that Bonnie and Clyde were together for two years before starting their crime spree are also omitted.
The real-life Bonnie and Clyde were nowhere near as sympathetic as this movie portrays them. Bonnie and Clyde were active at the same time as John Dillinger, whom the public had more sympathy for. Newspaper columnist Mike Royko, shortly after the film came out, printed a number of angry letters from relatives of the gang's real-life victims offended by their romanticization. One said, "They got my father. They did him with machine guns. He lived for three days." In contrast, there were a large number of people who rooted for Dillinger. Then again, there's a reason the Dillinger Gang was known as the "Terror Gang" for their use of submachine weaponry. Additionally, Bonnie and Clyde rarely gained newspaper attention outside of the Dallas area, compared to Dillinger, who dominated newspaper headlines all across the United States.
Frank Hamer, the Texas Ranger who led the effort to track down and kill Bonnie and Clyde, is portrayed as a bumbling idiot who allows himself to be made into a jackass by the movie's protagonists and their friends. In real life, although he knew who they were and masterminded the ambush, he never had personally interacted with them before the shootout May 23, 1934, near Gibsland, Louisiana. Hamer's surviving family was so outraged at the negative, buffoonish portrayal they filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. for defamation; the movie studio settled out-of-court.
Moral Myopia: The gang don't think they're doing anything particularly wrong, but those jerks who try to stop them from robbing banks, they were totally asking to be shot. (Of course, some of their enemies are jerks, but it isn't trying to stop murderous robbers that makes them so.)
More Dakka: How the title characters went down, in the movie and in reality. Those two had killed at least nine police officers over the course of their career, so the cops weren't taking any chances, even though one of the posse members, Sheriff Henderson Jordan did debate whether or not to try attempting to take them alive.
Present Day Past: The writers and director deliberately downplayed period accuracy to make the film more of a commentary on the '60s. The world of the movie is partly inspired by the '30s and partly by the movies of the French New Wave.
Screaming Woman: Blanche, much to the chagrin of the rest of the gang (especially Bonnie), as well as to her real-life inspiration.
Small Town Boredom: One of the reasons Bonnie joins Clyde in the first place, as he lampshades during a diner conversation.
Spiteful Spit: After Bonnie kisses Hamer for the posed photo, he spits in her face.
What Could Have Been: Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty's ex-girlfriend (one of many actually), was considered for the role of Bonnie - and incidentally was actually a lot closer to the real Bonnie's physicality (they were both short ladies).