Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Airing at 12AM EST
Today’s recommendation is the fantastic Bonnie and Clyde, starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty as the title lovers/criminals. Though the storyline is an undeniably romanticized pseudo-biographical account of the couple’s Depression-era crime spree, it is nonetheless a superior film. The movie is anchored solidly by the chemistry between its two leads, but its real effectiveness is in the strength of the ensemble cast, with excellent supporting turns by Oscar winner Estelle Parsons, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Wilder (in his first major film role), and a young Gene Hackman. Little wonder the film scored five separate Academy Award nominations for acting (see below).
The film is notorious for having ushered in a new era in film-making. Its glorification of and casual disregard of on-screen violence in particular would pave the way for more graphic depictions of violent and sexual acts in the years to come, and though the movie-going audience has become somewhat more jaded and numbed to such antics in the forty-something years since this film’s release (and though I’ve personally never been one to enjoy the sight of blood and gore), it is still effective, still haunting … and still necessary. We know, going into this film, that something bad is going to happen to this couple, yet the denouement remains shocking in its extremity.
One of my favorite things about this particular film are the amazing costumes, designed by Theadora Van Runkle. This was Van Runkle’s first Hollywood production, but you wouldn’t know it to look at the stylish, sophisticated look she gives Dunaway in the film–a look that impressed the actress so much that she insisted Van Runkle design the costumes for many of her subsequent films. Bonnie’s beret-jacket-tight sweater-long skirt look would influence fashion designers and costumers for years to come. It still looks fresh and relevant, even today.
Don’t miss this classic, one of the truly greatest gangster films of all time.
Wins: Best Supporting Actress (Parsons), Best Cinematography
Nominations: Best Actor (Beatty), Best Actress (Dunaway), Best Supporting Actor (Pollard and Hackman), Best Screenplay, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best Picture