This is not only a crime film, but a somewhat factual crime film. It is based on the real-life titular criminals, B & C let’s call them.
B & C as portrayed by Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, respectively, are good-looking Hollywood versions of the actual people. The story takes place during the Depression era in the middle of Nowheresville, so blonde, beautiful Bonnie gets bored with life. After she hooks up with Clyde, they decide it would be fun to go on a crime spree.
After B&C pull a few holdups for practice, they up their game and graduate to robbing banks. This is after they’ve met the idiotic somewhat slow C.W. Moss (played in the usual doltish manner by Michael J. Pollard
, professional hippie), then Clyde’s brother, Buck (played by Gene Hackman) and his wife, Blanche (played by the high-pitched and nerve-racking Estelle Parsons).
Unfortunately, B&C end up killing folks while they’re pulling bank heists. And as the saying goes, this aggression will not stand. So violence is met with more violence from the coppers.
Bearing in mind that this film came out in the late 60s, is it any surprise that it was embraced in the spirit of those times by young people looking for thrills and who wanted to stick it to “the man”?
So, in addition to making violent crime look sexy and politically correct (for the 1960s), this movie opened the door for others to more honestly and graphically depict sex and violence. And given the movie’s underlying political tilt, it also managed to make a couple of thugs look like martyrs. (BTW, if graphic violence upsets you, don’t watch this!)
Despite the somewhat questionable “goodness” of the main characters, I admit to getting a thrill from watching this movie. Plus, the film did pave the way for moviemakers to portray criminals with more visual honesty, even if the real Bonnie and Clyde bore little resemblance to their Hollywood surrogates. Qualms about the glorification of the criminal life aside, I am a big fan of this movie.
This ground-breaking and engaging film gets my two thumbs up!