Film: Bonnie and Clyde

"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.


Tropes:

  • Action Girl: Bonnie.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Anti-Hero: Clyde is a thief and murderer, but is given a more sympathetic treatment by the film than historically.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Follow the Leader: The film's success inspired a few exploitation films about other '30s gangsters, such as A Bullet For Pretty Boy (former teen idol Fabian Forte as Pretty Boy Floyd) and Bloody Mama (Shelley Winters as Ma Barker, directed by Roger Corman).
  • 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.
  • 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 real Bonnie and Clyde were nowhere near as sympathetic as the film portrays them. Bonnie and Clyde were active at the same time as John Dillinger, whom the public had far more sympathy for, while the Barrow Gang was despised by the public for murdering lawmen and innocents alike in cold blood. 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." 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 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, Frank Hamer was not kidnapped; rather, 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. He had never personally interacted with them before the shootout in May 23, 1934 where Bonnie and Clyde were killed. 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.
  • The Lancer: Buck.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: "I ain't much of a loverboy."
  • 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.
  • Name and Name
  • New Hollywood: One of the first movies of this era.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s):

Bonnie And Clyde