Blind Spot 65: Bonnie and Clyde

Part of the purpose of the Blind Spot series is to challenge myself to watch classic films outside of my comfort zone. These are usually films I’ve heard great things about but have been hesitant to watch for one reason or another. 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde definitely fall into that description. A landmark of its time Bonnie and Clyde is a film that changed cinema with its grounded feel and shocking violence and sensuality.

Of course, Bonnie and Clyde tells the story of the outlaw couple in Depression Era America. Bonnie is played by Faye Dunaway and Clyde by Warren Beatty. Gene Hackman and Estelle Parson also play notable supporting roles (Parson won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress). Burnett Guffey also won an Oscar for the incredible cinematography.

The best thing about Bonnie and Clyde is its realism. Even though I know it plays fast and loose with the real story of the couple, when you are watching it feels real. It feels like what it might actually have been like stealing and scrounging for food and lodging- learning to dodge bullets along the way. Nothing feels clean or glossed up for the movies.

As you are watching you feel the exhaustion from the actors as if they were actually experiencing the events of the film. And by the time you get to its very graphic ending it is a relief for the chase is finally be over. I can see why critics like Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert were so drawn to such a visceral piece of work.

All that said, the film could do a better job in helping us to get to know Bonnie and Clyde as characters better. They are always kept at a distance and that’s a weakness in the script. Also, this type of violence just isn’t my cup of tea so I don’t picture myself ever watching Bonnie and Clyde ever again.

Still, I’m glad I saw it once to see a turning point in film and to broaden the scope of the films I have seen.

Have you seen Bonnie and Clyde? What did you think of this classic?

6.5 out of 10

Smile Worthy

5 thoughts on “Blind Spot 65: Bonnie and Clyde

  1. Surprise, surprise: another great write-up, Rachel! I adore that you always take a movie’s legacy into account as you’re watching it, yet you never let that get in the way of your personal feelings about the movie itself. And while I can’t say that was the case with ME, I’ve always felt that B&C justified its reputation. I agree it’s not as hard-hitting or in-depth as it could’ve been (and some of its rougher have definitely been sanded off over time thanks to other, more modern R-rated fare), but to me, it works as a celebration/ mockery of celebrity worship, as opposed to a deep-dive exposé on Barrow and Parker. But that’s just me!

  2. I wondered what you would make of this. I have not seen it yet, but have heard of how important it was as a marker between the classical style of traditional filmmaking and the modern style of prioritized realism and lack of censorship that we see in movies today.

    This marked the end of Bosley Crowther’s 27-year-long post as esteemed film critic for The New York Times, but not just for giving it a bad review, as some think. It was because he repeatedly criticized it, even in other reviews and in letters to the editor. It also marked the beginning of Roger Ebert’s long career as esteemed critic for The Chicago Sun-Times, with his extravagant 4-star praise for the film.

    And yet when I quoted Crowther’s review to my aunt who saw it when it came out (“It is a cheap piece of bald-faced slapstick comedy that treats the hideous depredations of that sleazy, moronic pair as though they were as full of fun and frolic as the jazz-age cut-ups in Thoroughly Modern Millie”), she just nodded her head and said “Yes, it didn’t exactly portray just what horrible, violent people they really were.”

    I remember she would sit by her TV for hours to watch In the Heat of the Night being played and played again, and when I told her Roger Ebert had stopped believing in the Academy Awards the year that won Best Picture over Bonnie and Clyde, she just said “He wanted Bonnie and Clyde to win? But Bonnie and Clyde was soooo violent….”

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