|Available at Amazon.com|
Looking to the past for inspiration usually leads to some interesting results, especially in regards to crime films. Earlier this year, The Bank Job was a great heist film that showcased the unique glamour that was the 1970s. American Gangster was another look at that era, this time through the eyes of heroin legend Frank Lucas. But the one era of American crime that hasn’t been explored nearly as much recently was the 1920s and 1930s, when John Dillinger and Machine Gun Kelly were amongst the most notorious of outlaws. But one pair has captured the imagination in the decades since, growing more famous after their death. Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were relatively famous in their time but became much moreso after their deaths. It doesn’t hurt that Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway portrayed them in a film that Roger Ebert lists amongst his “Great Movies” in Bonnie and Clyde.
Nominated for an armful of Oscars, and winning for Cinematography and Best Supporting Actress (Estelle Parsons), Bonnie and Clyde is a highly fictionalized account of their escapades that launched Gene Hackman’s career and inspired a handful of other films like The Wild Bunch in part because of how it used and showcased excessive violence.
And that’s the legacy, in how the film raised the bar for violence in a film. While I can imagine Arthur Penn never imagined that films like Saw and Hostel would evolve from the violence of this film, Bonnie and Clyde did a lot of things stylistically that are still seen four decades later. The action sequences, especially the cinematography and editing involved, have been copied and modified by an army of directors in the years since. They’re not as revolutionary or as shocking as they were then, obviously, but it’s still impressive work none the less.
It doesn’t hurt that the film is also a masterpiece to go with the influence it has left. Penn crafts a slow-burning crime film, developing his characters slowly with wonderful performances from Dunaway and Beatty. They have chemistry that’s instant and radiates off the screen. It’s a couple for the ages both historically and cinematically.
Bonnie and Clyde remains as one of the great films about criminals, holding up amazingly well nearly 50 years later.
Presented in a Dolby Digital format with a widescreen presentation, the transfer has been cleaned up somewhat for this release but still shows a little bit of aging in the forty plus years since its initial release. There’s still some slight grain in the picture on occasion, but for the most part it’s been cleaned up quite well.
The History Channel feature on Bonnie & Clyde, Love and Death: The Story of Bonnie and Clyde is an interesting one as it dissolves a lot of the myths about the criminal duo in the way that The History Channel usually tends to do. Following the duo from their past to their criminal liaisons and eventual deaths, it’s a fascinating look through time as they compile letters from the duo as well as their friends and family about the events. The feature looks at the era as a whole and shows how they came to be, from their beginnings as petty thugs to the moderately famous bank robbers they would die as. The History Channel gives an even-handed look at the two, staying away from excusing their crimes but presenting them in a light that isn’t completely negative. They were people who did bad things, but aren’t glorified or demonized for it. It runs about 45 minutes.
Revolution! The making of Bonnie and Clyde is a retrospective piece from the surviving members of the cast and crew about the film. It’s interesting to hear Beatty talk about the film, as he quotes Winston Churchill to start the piece, and he’s brutally honest about what he thought about the film. He never intended to star in the film, wanting to produce the film and having gone into the proceedings wanting to make a film about French singer Edith Piaf, and initially wanted Bob Dylan in the role. Beatty eventually came to the realization that he would have to be the star, and from there movie history was made. It’s a real honest look from everyone involved, as the usual EPK style of retrospective is out and everyone being ridiculously honest is fascinating on any number of levels while it covers every aspect of the film from its production to its legacy.
Warren Beatty’s Wardrobe Tests, set to the film’s score, shows Beatty doing camera tests on how his wardrobe would work. It’s interesting to see Beatty so young, doing something simple and routine, and it’s hard to turn away from seeing a wardrobe test. It’s a real unique look at the film-making process, for sure.
Deleted Scenes are included but don’t have any sound to them. The dialogue is available on subtitles obtained from the film’s final script, leaving something that isn’t to the imagination, but it’s easy to see why they were taken out. Even without the audio tracks, both scenes included don’t add much back into the film.
The Film’s Theatrical Trailer and Teaser Trailer are included as well.
If you’re a fan of crime films, or like cinematic violence, this is a no-brainer to add to one’s collection.
Warner Bros. presents Bonnie and Clyde. Directed by Arthur Penn. Starring Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman. Gene Wilder. Written by David Newman and Robert Benton. Running time: 111 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: March 25, 2008. Available at Amazon.com