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Depression era drifters Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty), just out of jail for armed robbery, and waitress Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) embark on a life of crime. They crave adventure - and each other. They rob small banks with skill and panache, soon becoming minor celebrities known across the country. They take along young store clerk C. W. Moss (Michael J. Pollard) and are joined by Clyde's brother Buck (Gene Hackman) and his God fearing wife Blanche (Estelle Parsons). People are proud to have been held up by Bonnie and Clyde; to their victims, the duo is doing what nobody else has the guts to do. To the law, the two are evil bank robbers who deserve to be gunned down where they stand.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Winning Best Supporting Actress Award for Estelle Parsons and Best Cinematography for Burnett Guffey, plus nominations in almost every other category, Arthur Penn's classic of celebrity criminals in 1930s America is as thrilling today as the year it was made (1967). All the accolades are well deserved, and none more so than a wonderfully economical script.

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty deliver pitch perfect performances as Bonnie and Clyde, with characterisations that are layered and engaging. Beatty's bravado is infectious, and Dunaway's abandon is life affirming - if doomed. The film is a romanticised version of the real Bonnie and Clyde, and it is intended as such; the real story is to be found on Disc 2. But some key elements are faithfully retained, including the tragic love story about two people who wanted to die together. And they knew they were going to die - it was just a question of when and how.

Penn directs the film with a sense of adventure, which is highlighted by a zippy score (the only category not nominated for an Oscar) that uses banjo cues to add a flavour of feisty shenanigans. Of course, the truth is darker, but their story turns Bonnie and Clyde into examples of immorality punished, for an America with selective moral standards.

There is a sense of tragedy as the end nears, and Penn makes the right choices in shooting his closing sequence. He also helped reshape the sexual complexity of the two central characters, the result being a mostly impotent Clyde.

The remastered transfer is pretty good (you may want to increase your usual volume setting, though, to compensate for the mono sound). The aforementioned historical feature (45 minutes) about the real Bonnie and Clyde is excellent, and there is a new featurette presented by Warren Beatty and including the writers recollecting the making of the film, which is also great. Interestingly, Beatty reveals the script had been offered first to Arthur Penn, but after he turned it down, to a dozen directors, including William Wyler. Beatty took it back to Penn, who agreed on condition he could make some changes - such as Clyde being portrayed not as bi-sexual (as originally written) but as impotent.

The feature includes lots of fascinating background, including how filmmaker Curtis Hanson (then a photographer) happened to have taken stills of the little known Dunaway the day before Beatty and Penn met to talk about casting Bonnie ... and how those photos played a role.

Published August 21, 2008

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(US, 1967)

CAST: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Denver Pyle, Dub Taylor, Evans Evans, Gene Wilder

PRODUCER: Warren Beatty

DIRECTOR: Arthur Penn

SCRIPT: David Newman, Robert Benton


EDITOR: Dede Allen

MUSIC: Charles Strouse


RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes


SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc 1: digitally remastered feature. Disc 2: Making of ...40th anniversary commemorative featurettes; Bonnie and Clyde Profile, from The History Channel; additional scenes; Warren Beatty wardrobe tests

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: August 13, 2008

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