100 Movies to See Before You Die- “Bonnie and Clyde”

-NOTE- My pace of watching these films is going to slow dramatically now that school has started back up, but I will try to keep them coming pretty regularly.

“Bonnie and Clyde,” directed by Arthur Penn, was a movie that really wasn’t on my radar before I started this blog series. I didn’t really have any expectations going into it so I was anxious to see why this movie is considered a classic by many. Well, it turns out this film is largely remembered for its boundary pushing violence. To a viewer today the violence shown on screen would probably seem pretty average, but in 1967 it pushed the boundaries of what had previously been acceptable in cinema. This was apparently one of the first films to make extensive use of squibs (small explosive charges under the clothes of the cast to simulate bullet hits).  It also picked up Oscar trophies for Best Supporting Actress (Estelle Parsons) and best cinematography (Burnett Guffey).


Should this film be considered a classic? This is a tough one for me. The performances by Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, and Estelle Parsons  in the movie were excellent even though I had a hard time feeling sympathy for the murdering bandits. My moral compass tends to make me not like movies that glorify criminals as some type of heroic or honorable figure. This probably why I have a problem with many of the mob movies that are held in high regard as well. That said, the film style is indeed interesting and definitely a break from the typical American fare of that time. The violence is indeed intense for a film from that time as well. So I think I am prepared to put this one in the “classic” category, but just barely. Films that are considered “classics” solely because they push a moral envelope (and nearly always in the wrong direction) have a hard time making the cut in my mind. However, this film has enough going for it that I do think it is worthy of its accolades.

Would I own this film? No, I don’t think I would. Mostly for the reason I stated above, I don’t like the glorification of immoral and criminal behavior that is put on screen. I felt like the filmmakers wanted the audience to feel sad when Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed and gunned down at the end of the film, but I had a hard time feeling sorry for them because I knew about the swath of murder and mayhem they had cut up down the south and mid west. It’s a well made and very watchable movie, but it’s just not my cup of tea.


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