Film / Bonnie and Clyde

"This here's Miss Bonnie Parker. I'm Clyde Barrow. We rob banks."

A 1967 biopic about the famous 1930s bank-robbing duo of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, directed by Arthur Penn and starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty.

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 (Parsons) and Best Cinematography (Burnett Guffey). 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.


  • Action Girl: Bonnie.
  • Affably Evil: Don't you like Bonnie and Clyde?
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: After the first time he holds up a store with her, Bonnie immediately tries to jump Clyde's bones.
  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": An outlaw couple makes it to the end, in a car, then they get a rain of bullets for their troubles.
  • Animated Adaptation: In the waning days of Looney Tunes, Robert McKimson directed two cartoons featuring Bunny and Claude, Bonnie and Clyde reimagined as rabbits who steal carrots, with a strong resemblance to Beatty and Dunaway. Since the film had been a big hit for Warner Bros., the whole thing was something of a Self-Parody for the studio.
  • Anti-Hero: Clyde is a thief and murderer, but is given a more sympathetic treatment by the film than historically.
  • Asexuality: Word of God may have said that Clyde is supposed to be impotent, but the movie never states so and his entire sexual behaviour comes across much more like this. (For example: Why doesn't he try to please the very frustrated Bonnie in other ways than penetrative sex, if he is sexually attracted to her but just suffers from ED? How come his supposed chronic physical problem just spontaneously resolves itself in the end without comment? Why does he act so very awkward when they first try to have sex, and doesn't give himself more than a few seconds time to react to Bonnie's touch before giving up?) Considering this was made in the 60s and the general expectation of A Man Is Always Eager, it's entirely possible that the writer based Clyde's behaviour on somebody who actually was asexual, but who he thought must be impotent. Or that Word of God actually meant "unwilling to have sex" but didn't have a better word for it, in the same way that asexual women were called "frigid".
    Clyde: I might as well tell you right off: I ain’t much of a lover boy. That don’t mean nothing personal about you. I mean… I… I never saw no percentage in it.
  • 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 better describes John Dillinger than it would the real Bonnie and Clyde.
  • Bang Bang BANG: Deliberately done, as Warren Beatty wanted the gunshots to overpower the soundtrack. This lead to at least one case of a projectionist turning down the sound during gunfights, blaming the loud gunshots on bad sound mixing.
  • Bank Robbery: The gang's main source of money and infamy. In reality, the gang didn't do this very often and preferred to rob convenience stores and gas stations instead.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Both Bonnie and Clyde get riddled with bullets in the closing scene, but strangely enough, neither of them get hit in the head, and they end up bloodstained but otherwise remarkably decorous.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, the Outlaw Couple leaders of a gang of bank robbers.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: C.W.'s dad, who seems like a hospitable guy at first but is an absolute Jerkass to his son and proves to be the undoing of Bonnie and Clyde.
  • Bounty Hunter: The gang believe Frank Hamer to be one. In real-life, he was hired by the Texas prison system administrator, Lee Simmons, to hunt Bonnie and Clyde, but not as a bounty hunter.
  • Breather Episode: The sequence with Eugene and Velma is meant to be a comedic interlude to balance things when the story starts getting darker.
  • Composite Character: C.W. Moss is a composite of two members of the Barrow Gang, W.D. Jones and Henry Methvin. The real W.D. Jones was not amused by this, and attempted to sue Warner Bros. for defamation. There is no known record his case was ever heard.
  • Cool People Rebel Against Authority: The laxer standards in censorship when this was made allowed far more of this attitude than most earlier films got away with.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster: With the bonus of the title characters being lovers on the run.
  • Downer Ending: A Foregone Conclusion.
  • Eye Scream: Blanche gets shot in the eye and later ends up blind in a hospital. In real-life, she actually got it from shards of flying glass due to a shootout in Platte City in July 1933.
  • Gorn: Although not impressive by modern standards, for its time (right after the removal of The Hays Code), this was a very violent movie and among the first to show actual blood splatter on screen.
  • The Great Depression: The backdrop for the film, and, as Clyde believes, the main reason for the gang's vocation. In real life, it is believed that Clyde's motivation was revenge against abuses he suffered during his imprisonment in Eastham.
  • Hidden Depths: Bonnie writes poetry about their misdeeds, which was Truth in Television.
  • Historical Beauty Update:
    • Plain-faced, 90-pound Bonnie Parker and shrimpy 5'6 little Clyde Barrow, played by foxy Faye Dunaway and tall, 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.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: A big offender. The real Bonnie and Clyde were nowhere near as sympathetic as the film portrays them. Clyde in particular was noted for having a Hair-Trigger Temper and bordered on Ax-Crazy at his worst.note  The film's Clyde has more in common with bank robbers John Dillinger and "Pretty Boy" Floyd, who were also active at the time and held considerably more public sympathy, whereas the public eventually grew tired of Bonnie and Clyde's constant violence and cop killings. 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."
    • Buck also gets this treatment. He was described as the most hot-tempered of the Barrows, often advocating killing hostages and had once tied two police officers they had captured to a tree with barbed wire, something that even Clyde found distasteful.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Frank Hamer is portrayed in the film as a bumbling, spiteful idiot who allows himself to be made into a jackass by the protagonists and their friends. In real life, he was a Texas Ranger hired out of retirement by prison system administrator Lee Simmons to hunt them down after the gang led a prison break, and never personally interacted with them before the shootout in May 23, 1934 where Bonnie and Clyde were killed. The film shows Hamer and his men gunning down Clyde when he is unarmed and outside his car, while in real life both Bonnie and Clyde were inside their car when they were shot, and the vehicle was filled with weapons.note  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.
  • Hobos: The gang meets up with a camp of them after a shootout and ask for water; they get a lot of attention and are given soup as well as water.
  • Hollywood History/Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Lots. For starters, C.W. Moss is a composite of W.D. Jones and the man who betrayed Bonnie and Clyde, Henry Methvin. 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. The gang's preferred weapons were Browning Automatic Rifles stolen from military armories that left police outgunned in confrontations, whereas the film has them using Thompson sub-machine guns. 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 events the film covers have a number of details changed to make the pair more sympathetic. For example, the butcher robbery in the film is based off a real incident where Clyde executed a shopkeeper during a robbery because the man had talked back to him.
  • The Lancer: Buck.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Clyde is portrayed by the film as impotent. Though there's no known basis for this in reality.
  • Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: It rates a 7, which is pretty high for a 1967 movie, largely due to the blood splatter from Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) pistol-whipping the man in the grocery show in the head, the bank teller's bloody headshot through a car window, and, of course, the the deaths of the two main characters at the end, complete with a small chunk of Clyde's scalp flying off, if you look carefully enough.
  • Mood Whiplash: Used to give the graphic (for the time) violence more impact. For example; The bank robbery scene, where Moss parks the car, first plays out as comedy as the trio bumble around trying to escape, but turns deadly when the banker jumps onto the running board and Clyde graphically shoots him in the face.
  • 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. The two had killed at least nine police officers and several civilians 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.
  • Multiple Gunshot Death: How Bonnie and Clyde get killed by the police. Truth in Television-the police went for There Is No Kill Like Overkill because they were that much of The Dreaded.
  • Name and Name
  • Oh, Crap!: Bonnie and Clyde, when they realize they are about to be ambushed.
  • Outlaw Couple: The Trope Codifier.
  • Phallic Weapon: The film is not at all subtle about this with Clyde.
  • 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 the real-life Blanche. The film deliberately played this up in order to make Bonnie seem "cooler".
  • 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.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Wow. Truth in Television, too.
  • Villain Protagonist: The title characters are robbers and killers. even so, the film's portrayal of them is considerably softer than the real Bonnie and Clyde.
  • Working on the Chain Gang: Clyde chopped off two of his toes to avoid this. Truth in Television, although most sources say that another inmate did it for him.