Bonnie and Clyde

We watched the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde on Saturday night. I wasn't sure what I thought of it for a while, though I did immediately appreciate the lack of music during many of the more memorable scenes. Sometimes I get annoyed at the blatantly manipulative music in most movies. And I was glad not be thus manipulated in this one. It's about real-life criminals, after all. And not about relatively benevolent ones who just wanted to get ahead or were forced into crime, but about some completely amoral people, who killed a fair number of people during their heyday.

It made me think about all the movies about criminals that we watch. Like The Italian Job (criminals who are exacting revenge against worse criminals); Gone in 60 Seconds ("It's our last job, and we don't want to do it, because we're going clean, but someone badder than us is making us do it"); Matchstick Men (conman movie, where "they always give me the money" and that makes it less of a crime). No comment on the merits of those movies in particular--they just came to mind--but we're meant to root for bad guys in all of them. Why do we do that? We'd like to live the savvy criminal lifestyle but will never have the guts? We want to see how the other side lives?

Well, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are interesting people, but I wasn't exactly on their side. More puzzled by their motives most of the time, and watching in amazement and horror as things escalated. I could probably relate more easily to Clyde's brother Buck and his screechy wife, who became part of the Barrow gang along the way. There were also some great portrayals of Bonnie's mother and a couple who end up involuntarily riding along with the Barrow gang for a time (the man played by Gene Wilder in what was his first film role, from what Jon read later).

It's a disturbing movie, though parts of it are funny, and the car chases and gunfights are generally portrayed in a wild-and-crazy-fun kind of way. The acting by all the secondary characters was really good. Jon thought Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were only okay (although I had no idea Warren Beatty was so good-looking when he was younger). Gene Hackman played Buck Barrow and was very good. Seems like he's consistently good.

Side note: my brother-in-law is related to Bonnie Parker. She and his grandfather were first cousins. Cool, huh?


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