BFI Classics: Bonnie And Clyde

Author: Lester D Friedman

This is a handy pocket guide to a film that is discussed at greater length and in similar terms elsewhere. Friedman covers all the bases, from the important role Bonnie and Clyde played in creating a ‘new Hollywood’ freed from the socially conservative restraints of the pre-Vietnam generation and also changing critical attitudes towards ‘youth-oriented’ films.

In terms of behind-the-scenes anecdotage, there is not much here that those who either saw or read Easy Riders, Raging Bulls won’t have encountered before. For example, the story told there, of how Jack Warner’s bladder nearly killed the film (“If I have to get up and pee during this, you’ll know the movie stinks,” he declared, before going to the bathroom several times during the screening), is recounted almost word-for-word here.

On the other hand, Friedman is able to go into minutiae of detail that Easy Riders, Raging Bulls couldn’t – there’s an insightful passage about how Faye Dunaway’s wardrobe inspired ‘70s hippy chicks to start dressing like ‘30s secretaries without compromising their progressive femininity, and a nicely written appreciation for the tragic-comic symbolism of Blanche Darrow.

This is not quite an essential companion to the film, but it’s either a useful supplement to your existing literature on Bonnie and Clyde or a good place to start.

Clare Moody

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