Home > Uncategorized > Sunday Screening #10: Bonnie and Clyde

Sunday Screening #10: Bonnie and Clyde

Things are falling apart over here at Sunday Screenings, what with Paul working, me taking weekends to fly across the country, our trying to restructure things, and our selecting films that are hard to come by. Sunday Screenings is becoming ill-defined (at least the Sunday part). Sorry about the tardiness of this post. Sadly, it means no video. However! It’s one many are familiar with and very easy to find. Our film for the week is the game-changing Bonnie and Clyde. It makes sense to screen this so soon after Godard because Bonnie and Clyde is thought to be a very European-styled film. Hopefully you can all get your copies by Sunday, but as we’ve seen, sometimes Sunday sneaks up on you. Enjoy!

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. LMM
    January 25, 2010 at 9:44 AM

    This movie, for me, is one of those that is always followed by the comment, “Oh yeah, I love that movie.”

    My first introduction to this movie was in film school. We studied this as the beginning of a risque period of Hollywood film, the 70s. It began with this film and ended with Raging Bull. I’ve seen several movies of this period, and have pretty much loved all of them. I think of it as the second coming of Classical Hollywood. This is when all the major directors of today started out as novices and friends. (Have read stories from the book “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls…” and it still fascinates me to think of de Palma, Scorsese, Spielberg, Coppala hanging out in their early 20s talking film and getting high…)

    If this movie was made today, it would be so much more graphic and gratuitous, bascially a shock value movie. (Not considering if it ended up in the right hands, because I really liked Public Enemies and thought that was in the same vain as B&C.)
    This movie is very violent, what they did was violent, but there was a poetic element to it that you feel for these characters. You sympathize with what brought them to this breaking point. Beautiful characters and action.

    The acting also was fantastic. Before I saw this movie, all I knew of Dunaway was “Once Bitten” (yeah, awesome) and Beatty was “Dick Tracy.” This movie and their acting put them in a whole different spectrum for me and garnered a lot of respect. It also was the confirmation that Beatty was extremely good looking and suave. (Also an ass, but that’s a different story…which apparently is now in an autobio.) Gene Hackman, who doesn’t love that guy.

    I’m sure I’ll think of other comments and thoughts as soon as I get from others.

  2. January 25, 2010 at 1:29 PM

    I do have to apologize for me not making more time for Sunday Screenings, especially on Sundays.

    On to this weeks film.

    I haven’t seen Bonnie and Clyde before yesterday, although we were shown the final scene in one of my classes at UT. I know that the film holds a place of importance in the film canon. I prefer to not read much about films, especially films of this stature, before viewing them, so I didn’t really have much in my mind to judge the film on (sans the ending) before seeing it. After Bonnie and Clyde I am beginning to question this, especially considering I was already aware of the climax of the film prior to seeing it. The only thing I remember from the lecture about Bonnie and Clyde was the talk of how violent the film was as a whole, particularly the ending, which means that there is a lot of importance to the film that I didn’t grasp before watching it, and also have picked up in reading about the film after viewing.

    Odd that we watched his movie after Godard’s Weekend, as it lifts a lot from the French New Wave (including several of the jumpcuts seen through out Godard’s work) and direction was offered to Truffaut, and then Godard. When the film was starting I told Erin that it was very much the American version of a European film, little did I know that at one point the goal was to have a European director at the helm.

    While I agree that the final scene is pretty incredible, honestly the remainder of the film didn’t do much for me. I just wasn’t really invested in the characters at all, so when they finally are brought to justice, I felt like they deserved the punishment that the received. Watching this film out of the context of the time it was released hurts it, in my opinion, because we’ve all seen much more racy/violent films and aren’t really shocked by what Bonnie and Clyde brings to the table (at least I wasn’t).

    • January 27, 2010 at 2:48 PM

      I’d also previously only heard this film mentioned in the context of its violence, and now that I’ve seen it, I think that’s a shame. The violence is by far the least interesting aspect of this film, despite the importance of the controversy it provoked or taboos it broke in the 1960s. I really responded to the characters, their choices, and how, as they ultimately were the architects of their own demise by continuing to be on the lam, real human details and emotions (Bonnie’s poetry, her concern for her mom, Clyde’s devotion to Bonnie and his brother) were glimpsed that made them understandable as human beings on some level. I didn’t think I’d feel bad for them getting killed at the end, but I definitely did. And that’s thanks much to the on-screen appeal of Beatty and Dunaway, of course, but also to the screenwriter and director.

      • LMM
        January 27, 2010 at 2:59 PM

        I think that the fact that you have feeling when they are killed is a testament to the violence in a way. Violence is usually an action part of a film, used to raise your heart beat and have you on the edge of your seat. You usually aren’t suppose to feel for the characters that are receiving the violent act. As daring as this sequence was for this time, it should of just sparked shock, not sympathy.

        • January 27, 2010 at 3:36 PM

          That’s true – it is important that violent scenes like Bonnie and Clyde being shot up in slow-motion, and Buck’s horribly slow, painful death, emphasize the tragedy of these doomed characters. Great point.

    • January 27, 2010 at 3:18 PM

      I’ll add to that by saying that, in terms of making the audience identify with Bonnie and Clyde despite their amoral ways, the filmmakers definitely stacked the deck in their favor by portraying the people who turned them in as unlikeable. The sheriff is shown craftily manipulating Blanche – he has a reason to, given what happened to him, but his insensitivity is striking – and C.W.’s father spends most of the time yelling and physically abusing his son because he doesn’t like his tattoo. I think these are debatable choices. If the filmmakers applied a similar degree of ambiguity to these characters as they did to Bonnie and Clyde, I think that aspect of the film may have been stronger.

      • January 27, 2010 at 11:56 PM

        Regarding the violence, I think what makes it shocking at all to me is that it’s essentially a job hazard and treated as such early in the film. Aside from some blood splatter, it’s not much different from the old gangster movies (except for having the gun shot and wound happen in the same shot). However, in the last scene, we don’t really expect gunfire of that nature. And the editing intensifies it all. It’s brutal, loud, and artful.

  3. LMM
    January 25, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    That is a good point, about having seen racier films since B&C was released. For me, it still was something that was shocking, considering when it was released. Maybe I was so ingrained with this thought from school that it’s hard to see it otherwise.

    I still feel it’s a bit shocking cause it’s not as racy as current films. It doesn’t show you too much, which is what you get today, yet it was just enough to get the point across. I’m not even sure if I’m making sense with this statement.

    It does have a very European feel to it. Again, like we touched on two weeks ago, Goddard was incredibly influential in American cinema. I believe this time in film history was greatly influenced by European directors and that’s what the films where what they were. These directors were some of the first film students to make films of their own, and are going to pull from their test subjects.
    It’s wonderful that we watched this so close to Weekend to see that connection.

    The characters definitely deserve their punishment, and by no means do I sympathize as much as I do with Benigno from Hable con ella, but I do understand where this life would be more appealing than the other option.

    • January 27, 2010 at 9:42 AM

      The funny thing is how the Europeans and Americans have gone back and forth. The French New Wave was young French filmmakers rebelling against French cinema and being influenced by American filmmakers. Then the Americans were influenced by the French and made films like Bonnie and Clyde. Although to me it seems that after that, American cinema became more about making as much money as fast as possible, and has lost some of its artistic sensibilities, but that’s another argument.

      I agree with you on the acting, I thought all the actors brought something to their characters. Funny story, one of my friends went out to LA to be a screenwriter a few years ago. Things didn’t really work out for him, but he did make one solid industry contact…one of the writers of Once Bitten. That guy still sells scripts.

      I’m a bit saddened by the fact that so far I think I have not much cared for most of the movies. But we’ll see what happens going forward.

      • LMM
        January 27, 2010 at 12:08 PM

        Totally agree on money making Hollywood…but yes, different topic.

        Once Bitten screenwriter is still working? Awesome. As awesome as Ricky from Better Off Dead is the producer of one of, in my opinion, the funniest kids shows on Nick.

        In the movies we’ve watched for SS? Interesting.

        • January 27, 2010 at 1:51 PM

          I think the films that have been screened for the site have been awesome selections. They’ve all furthered my understanding of film history, film in general, and even my own opinions and tastes in film.

          I wonder if, in addition to screening films, SS could also post broad film discussion topics that people could comment on. What made me think of this was the comment on American movies that Paul made, and how that would make for a great conversation, since I’m sure we all have interesting opinions on it. Granted, this goes beyond the purpose of SS, but I just wanted to share the thought.

          • LMM
            January 27, 2010 at 2:37 PM

            I definitely agree on enjoying the films shown. It’s great to expand what I know with others ideas and opinions, as well as think about things I haven’t thought about before.

          • January 27, 2010 at 3:33 PM

            I like that I’m watching these films, but I really haven’t seemed to enjoy most of them. I liked Singin’ in the Rain quite a bit, but other then that I haven’t really seen anything that I’ve really loved.

            I’m game to do off-topic stuff, we could set-up a seperate post each week, or a seperate area to host it.

          • January 27, 2010 at 11:59 PM

            Paul and I have talked about side discussions and making things broader. I think another post during the week on a more general film related topic could be done. If you have any suggestions, fire them our way.

    • January 27, 2010 at 11:57 PM

      As far as feeling sorry for the bad guys, A Clockwork Orange is a masterclass on how to do it.

      • LMM
        January 28, 2010 at 9:27 AM

        True, but for me it’s Benigno in Talk to Her.

  4. January 25, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    I’ll be joining in soon, but want to rewatch it first. I was supposed to get it today, but the mail is being a jerkface.

  5. January 27, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    I’m glad I’ve finally seen this movie. And very interesting that it was influenced by the French New Wave. I was struck especially by the the main title sequence as seeming stark and European, eschewing any lofty or entertaining Hollywoodesque intro.

    I found the Bonnie and Clyde characters fascinating, mostly due to how down-to-earth they were characterized and portrayed. The running conflict about their less-than-stellar sex life is a great component to the story and characters that made their situation unique and human. Also, the added conflict brought into their relationship by Buck and Blanche tagging along is great. It gives the film a deeper dimension beyond the obvious, “They’re going around robbing banks and shooting people; how will that affect them and when will they be caught?”, although that latter, larger element is also interesting and very well done. Bonnie wanting to see her “momma” and the resulting scene is a particularly foreboding subplot that shows, again in a very human, character-driven way, the consequences of the couple’s actions, both on other people and themselves.

    The humiliation of the sheriff was probably my favorite scene. It revealed a lot about the characters, especially Clyde (his devotion to Bonnie) and Bonnie (her ingenuity and sense of reckless fun).

    Seeing Gene Hackman was a surprise. I had no idea he was in this movie. He’s definitely great in this. And Gene Wilder! Didn’t know he was in this either. The contrast between comedy and dead-serious drama I thought was very well-handled; the tone shifts on a dime but not in an unwelcome or jarring way.

    I do have to say, though, that the screaming of Estelle Parsons was unbelievably irritating. I’d never thought I’d say this, but I think her screaming is actually worse than the screaming of the daughter of the professor (her name is Annie, apparently; I had to look that up) in Evil Dead II.

    • LMM
      January 27, 2010 at 3:06 PM

      The acting, for me, is what makes this movie. How you want to take care of Bonnie, you want to fall in love with Clyde, you sort of hate Blanche but want her there cause her and Buck are family.

      I love how the actors of this generation do movies for the role, and they have good roles to choose from. You have both Hackman and Wilder play great serious characters; then a few years later you have both playing comedic roles in Young Frankenstein.

      The only scream, that I can think of at the moment, that is worth watching is Jonah Hill’s scream in Accepted.

  6. January 27, 2010 at 11:53 PM

    Wellity, wellity, wellity… looks who’s finally joined the discussion.

    You guys have made a lot of great comments and I’ll comment on them a little here and there.

    This was my second time watching Bonnie and Clyde and a really enjoy the film. As you say, the acting is great and anytime Gene’s Wilder and Hackman are around is a good time. I especially love how the Gene Wilder scene plays out. It’s hilarious, but pretty tense. And the willingness of Eugene (Wilder) and his lady friend to join in the fun is quite amusing. And the scene’s tone turns on a dime, but does so beautifully (as John points out). I especially like when the young lovers roll up the windows in their stopped car.

    The issue of sexual inadequacy is particularly interesting. Even before we know for a fact that Clyde has them, there are clues in the film, like the first bank robbery attempt where there is no money and Bonnie laughs at Clyde. And it’s definitely against type for Beatty to not be a lethario (as he is in Shampoo).

    Something that helps the viewer keep the sympathy with Bonnie and Clyde is that they are rarely the aggressors. Banks are pegged early on as being bad guys, taking people’s homes. They let a farmer keep his money. They are always getting ambushed. Also, for all of the early acts of violence, they show remorse. They were pushed to go to far. Clyde is positively broken up by killing the man who jumped on the car.

    There is little notice of time passing in the film and we don’t really know how long they’ve been on the run. Add to that the fact that there is no way to know how many banks they’ve robbed, especially since they are credited with jobs they didn’t do. We’re always slightly unsure of when we are and what’s true.

    Some lingering thoughts:
    Foggy Mountain Breakdown is a great song.

    Faye Dunaway was very pleasing on the eyes.

    Blanche is incredibly annoying and I wish there was less of her wailing in the film. She also unconvincingly changes her tune about the crimes (though some reticence is shown later).

    The ending is a masterpiece of great editing.

  7. January 28, 2010 at 12:00 AM

    Placeslost :

    I like that I’m watching these films, but I really haven’t seemed to enjoy most of them. I liked Singin’ in the Rain quite a bit, but other then that I haven’t really seen anything that I’ve really loved.

    Oh Paul, you’re just an old fuddy-duddy.

    • February 1, 2010 at 1:37 PM

      Shouldn’t it be more something like “You kids these days can’t appreciate a good classic movie…” (while you shake your fist in the air)…

      It’s not my fault. I didn’t choose to not like them…it just happened.

      • February 1, 2010 at 2:53 PM

        I was channeling Katharine Hepburn in honor of the film.

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