Sometimes I look at the tale of Bonnie andClydein an odd way. It was the depression and they were in the middle of the boring, flat mid-west. They were young, crazy and faced with the choices of sit around and rot in the dust or run off, have fun and raise a little hell. Their main problem was, they raised loads of hell.
When we first see Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway), she’s alone in her room, bored, naked and all she has to look forward to is her next waitress shift. But outside her window, she sees a young man hanging around her mother’s car. This is Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty). They hang out around town for a while, just talking. He says he’s done time for armed robbery. That fascinates a bored girl. Everything happens so casually, just as in conversation. Before we realize what is happening,Clydehas robbed a store and the two are exchanging names as they steal a car.
You could say these two move pretty fast, but that only applies to their life of crime. Though it’s easy for Bonnie to get stirred up and attempt a ravenous make-out session while Clyde is driving the getaway car,Clydemakes it clear that he “ain’t much of a loverboy”. To Bonnie’s disappointment, she’s just run off and become an outlaw with someone who won’t have sex, which seems to be Bonnie’s main asset and outlet.
Soon the Barrow gang is expanding. While Bonnie andClydeare driving through, they recruit a young man tending a gas station, C.W. Moss (Michael J. Pollard). He seems like just another bored kid who decides on a whim that running from the law is more exciting than sitting around in the dust. Later,Clydemeets up with his brother and sister-in-law, Buck (Gene Hackman) and Blanche (Estelle Parsons). Buck knows all about his little brother’s growing list of run-ins with the law and tries to keep all that from his wife. The whole gang decides they should just lay low for a while, but when they’re found out, Buck and Estelle shoot and run with the rest, permanently attaching themselves to the Barrow gang.
The gang finds themselves in some of the most screwball situations. When a lone Texas Ranger tries to sneak up on the gang, parked in the woods for a break, he ends up with his arms tied and in a photo shoot. Buck brings out his camera and takes a few priceless shots of Bonnie andClydeposing with the bound lawman. Later, there’s a hilarious scene where the gang steal the car of a young man, Eugene (Gene Wilder). He and his girlfriend Velma (Evans Evans) start chasing the gang in another car, but decide to turn back fearing they’re armed. Soon, they’re riding around, with the Barrow gang, stopping for hamburgers and having a grand time. Hanging around with the Barrow gang sounds like a real fun time, unless you’re an undertaker.
Bonnie soon sees that this life on the run is harder and less romantic than she thought. She misses her family and refuses to let go of her old life, saying she wants to live near her mother again. As the law moves closer, it’s clearer that those things aren’t going to happen. It’s kind of sad really, but eventually Bonnie makes her own mark on the world and tells the story of her andClydein a way that makes sure they’re remembered forever.
To this day, the term Bonnie andClydehas a hint of romanticism in it. We know they robbed banks and killed people along the way and by definition they are considered bad people. But there are still ideas of rebellion, adventure and charm associated with the unforgettable duo. Somehow, I think Bonnie andClydeappreciate us remembering them as just a couple crazy kids raising some hell in a time that needed a little excitement.
“All I can say is, they did right by me – and I’m bringin’ me and a mess of flowers to their funeral.”