Bonnie Parker is bored with life and wants a change. She gets her chance when she meets a charming young drifter by the name of Clyde Barrow. Clyde has dreams of a life of crime that will free him from the hardships of the Depression. The two fall in love and begin a crime spree that extends from Oklahoma to Texas. They rob small banks with skill and panache, soon becoming minor celebrities known across the country. 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.
Warren Beatty ... Clyde Barrow
Faye Dunaway ... Bonnie Parker
Michael J. Pollard ... C.W. Moss
Gene Hackman ... Buck Barrow
Estelle Parsons ... Blanche
Denver Pyle ... Frank Hamer
Dub Taylor ... Ivan Moss
Evans Evans ... Velma Davis
Gene Wilder ... Eugene Grizzard
Director: Arthur Penn
Nominated for 10 Oscars, won 2 Oscars for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Cinematography
Codecs: DivX 5 / MP3
Today even the title sequence looks great--family photos displayed on the screen to the sound of a camera's clicking, interspersed with the actors' names whose letters gradually fade to red. At this point in movie history BONNIE AND CLYDE appears to still hold its reputation as the most significant American movie of the 1960s. Like CITIZEN KANE, its emphasis proved invaluable, its influence much more profound than its statement.
The movies lightens and romanticizes the characters' lives. We are in the company of real flesh-and-blood people, who experience joy, love, happiness and pain. The movie's haunting finale has become as famous as the shower scene in PSYCHO and just as shattering. We feel the loss as powerfully as we did in the Hitchcock film, but perhaps moreso, because we have spent the last two hours in the company of characters who have come to mean something to us as individuals.
Arthur Penn's direction is inspired, as though he knew he was in the midst of a momentous creation. The look of the Depression-era towns, desolate and lonely, adds a forlorn backdrop to the story. The first half of the film has its near-farcical moments (Michael J. Pollard's moronic gas-station attendant and Gene Wilder's wide-eyed undertaker appear to belong to a comedy), but somehow one is left with an eerie final feeling of loneliness, pain, heartbreak and death.
The tone of the story is permanently changed after Bonnie's visit with her mother, who predicts death to her daughter and Clyde if they choose to return to live within the perimeter of her homestead. Soon after there is a harrowing dispensation of a major character, the maiming of another, then promises of love and a hint of marriage. Bonnie immortalizes herself and Clyde in a poem, published in newspapers, brazenly signalling their deaths. The last sequence has its overtones of happiness--Bonnie wistfully regards a lovely figurine she has purchased, the two lovers share an apple in the front seat of the car, and they have never looked lovelier. All those details are significant, and every shot seems miraculously right.
BONNIE AND CLYDE has a near-perfect cast. Warren Beatty has never been better than as the bumbling, impotent bank robber; I don't think he has ever been so strong and winning on the screen. The movie opened up new doors for Faye Dunaway, whose Depression era wardrobe, designed by Theodora Van Runkle, swept the globe. Though not even close in looks to the plainness of the real-life Bonnie, Miss Dunaway invests her character with great emotional warmth.
Gene Hackman has seldom been so good as Clyde's brother, an ordinary character made memorable by the talented actor's gifts for totally inhabiting his character. As his wife, the marvelous Estelle Parsons manages to bring off what is possibly the film's most difficult scene to watch: recently blinded, questioned by a Texas ranger with an agenda, she is taunted and made to cry, then abruptly abandoned. How painful must it be for someone who has just been shot in the eye to cry? All five main performers received Oscar nominations in 1967, and Estelle Parsons duly took home the award for Best Supporting Actress.
BONNIE AND CLYDE leads us from initial laughter and disbelief through the shocks of recognition to a final, prescribed provocation which time can never erase. Explicit violence had never been used so forcefully, or so erotically. BONNIE AND CLYDE is one of the pathfinder films of the 1960s whose influence is still being felt. The movie was a big success in 1967, but the reputation it has gained since is even bigger. As with any great film, it's one that can be seen over and over and be savored each time as though each time were the first.
* Morgan Fairchild, who was active in Dallas theatre, began her film career in this film as Faye Dunaway's stand-in.
* Jane Fonda turned down the role of Bonnie Parker. Living in France at the time, she did not want to relocate to the U.S. for the part.
* The film has a dynamic soundtrack that gets much louder during the gunfights. The British premiere of the film was notable because the projectionist previewed the film and thought the volume changes were a mistake, so he made careful notes for when to turn it up and when to turn it down so that the volume was "corrected."
* Visitors to Alcatraz Island near San Francisco might be interested to see where the couple's real-life driver Floyd Hamilton was imprisoned. It was cell #26 located in the D Block.
* The character "C.W. Moss" is a fictionalized composite of two members of the Barrow gang: William Daniel "W.D." Jones, and Henry Methvin.
* The first choice for director, François Truffaut, expressed a keen interest in the project and may have even been involved in the development of the screenplay (it was supposedly at Truffaut's insistence that the real-life Clyde Barrow's bisexuality was eliminated from the film). However, before filming could begin, the opportunity arose for Truffaut to make Fahrenheit 451 (1966), a long-cherished project of his, and he dropped out to make that film instead.
* After François Truffaut's departure from the project, the producers approached Jean-Luc Godard. Some sources claim Godard didn't trust Hollywood and refused; other allege he planned to change Bonnie and Clyde to teenagers and relocate the story to Japan, prompting the film's investors to force him off the project.
* Warner Bros. gave the movie a limited, "B" movie-type release at first, sending it to drive-ins and lesser theaters. When critics began raving about the film and young people began to show up at screenings, it was better promoted, given a wider release and became a huge hit.
* For the climactic massacre, Faye Dunaway's leg had to be tied to the gear shift to prevent her from falling completely out of the rocking car
* The real Clyde Barrow was rumored to be bisexual and Warren Beatty was willing to play the part that way, but director Arthur Penn talked him out of it. He was impotent instead.
* Thousand of berets were sold worldwide after Faye Dunaway wore them in this film.
* Other actresses considered for the role of Bonnie Parker included Tuesday Weld, Ann-Margret, Carol Lynley and Sue Lyon.
* The poem that Bonnie is reading as the police open fire on the rented flat is "The Story of Suicide Sal" written by Bonnie Parker in 1932.
* In a 1968 interview, Warren Beatty mentioned that his last conversation with ex-girlfriend Natalie Wood took place in the summer of 1966 when he tried unsuccessfully to get her to play Bonnie Parker in his film. Later that evening, she attempted to take her own life and was discovered by her live-in housekeeper.
* The movie that Bonnie and Clyde go to see after their botched bank robbery when C.W. Moss parallel parked their get away car was Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933).
* C.W. Moss mentions, in the first scene with Buck and Blanche, that Myrna Loy is his favorite movie star. Loy was supposedly a favorite actress of John Dillinger. In fact, when he was gunned down outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago, the film he had just seen was Manhattan Melodrama (1934), in which Loy starred.
* Gene Hackman was on the set one day when he noticed a guy standing behind him and staring. The man said, "Hell, Buck would've never wore a hat like that." Hackman turned around and looked at him and said, "Maybe not." He looked like an old Texas farmer. The man introduced himself and said, "Nice to meet you - I'm one of the Barrows."
* The movie's line "We rob banks." was voted as the #41 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
* In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #42 Greatest Movie of All Time.
* Cher auditioned for the role of Bonnie Parker, but when her husband/manager at the time, Sonny Bono, heard about the audition, he was furious at Warren Beatty for letting his wife audition for such a "controversial film".
* Premiere voted this movie as one of "The 25 Most Dangerous Movies".
* During one of the bank robberies, Buck Barrow (Gene Hackman) does a leap over the tellers' cage. This was a stunt routinely pulled by John Dillinger, who in turn learned it from watching Douglas Fairbanks in the “Zorro” movies.
* The family gathering scene was filmed in Red Oak, Texas. Several local residents were watching the film being shot, when the filmmakers noticed Mabel Cavitt, a local school teacher, among the people gathered. She was chosen then and there to play Bonnie Parker's mother.
* The car that the real Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow met their fate in is currently on display (along with Barrow's bullet-riddled shirt) in Primm Valley Hotel and Casino in Primm, NV, 20 miles outside of Las Vegas near the California border. The prop car used in the film was displayed as part of a "Bonnie and Clyde" diorama at Planet Hollywood Dallas, in Dallas, TX. The Planet Hollywood in Dallas closed in 2001 and the car is now owned by a private collector.
* When Warren Beatty was on board as producer only, his sister Shirley MacLaine was a strong possibility to play Bonnie. But when Beatty decided to play Clyde himself, for obvious reasons he decided not use MacLaine.
* Bonnie Parker was 4'10" tall, nine inches shorter than Faye Dunaway.
* Warner Brothers had so little faith in the film that, in an unprecedented move, it offered its first-time producer Warren Beatty 40% of the gross instead of a minimal fee. The movie then went on to gross over $50 million.
* A crucial fact left out of the movie was that Bonnie Parker was virtually incapacitated for the last year of her life from a car wreck. Clyde Barrow was driving fast down a lonely country road in Texas when he came upon a washed-out bridge. Unable to stop in time, the car went over the edge crashed and into the creek. The force of the impact jarred Bonnie's seat forward, pinning her in the car as it began to catch fire. She received severe burns on the backs of her legs that made it difficult to walk. She would either limp or was carried by Clyde. She was, in fact, injured at the time of the nighttime tourist court shootout and the field shootout (where Buck was killed) that occur near the end of the film.
* The story of Bonnie Parker smoking a cigar in a picture is accurate. She did it as a joke. But after the shootout at the bungalow in Joplin, MO, police found the photos the gang had taken and published the photo of Bonnie, thereby leading to her unearned rep as a "Cigar Smokin' Gun Moll".
* Debut of Gene Wilder.
* In one scene, while holding up a bank, Clyde Barrow tells a farmer he can keep his own money. ("Is that your money or the bank's?" "It's mine." "You keep it then.") In real life, it was bank robber Pretty Boy Floyd who allowed a farmer to keep his own money during a holdup.
* Morgan Woodward was originally slated to play Frank Hamer, but he was held up when filming of Cool Hand Luke (1967) fell behind, so the part was given to Denver Pyle.
* SPOILER: Contrary to the film's portrayal of Blanche Barrow inadvertently divulging the identity of C.W. Moss to Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, thereby setting Bonnie and Clyde's deaths in motion, in real life Hamer found Bonnie and Clyde through simple tracking methods. Hamer knew that they traveled in a loop. They would routinely start in Dallas, move north through Oklahoma and Kansas, cut east to Missouri, south to Arkansas and Louisiana, and west back to Dallas. Knowing that gang member Henry Methvin (on whom the C.W. Moss character is partly based) had family in Louisiana, Hamer struck a deal with Methvin's father (as seen in the movie) to set up Bonnie and Clyde.