micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links
Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.
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Tuesday, November 26, 2002
A few thoughts on Bonnie and Clyde
When I first saw Bonnie and Clyde one afternoon in June of 1994, I wasn’t too impressed. The night before I’d watched Easy Rider and I believe I was still engulfed in that film’s blast of energy, energy that unfortunately become more tedious with each additional viewing.
I watched Bonnie and Clyde –a fictionalized account of a famous string of bank robberies in the 1930s- for the second time this past Thursday and was most impressed. It has great directing by Arthur Penn, great music and great acting by all of the starts, most notably Warren Beatty, who also produced the movie. Despite his reputation Beatty is believable as a man afraid of sex. Credit should also go to script writers David Newman, Robert Benton and Robert Towne for creating complex and flawed personalities for Clyde Barrow (Beatty) and Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) who find joy, satisfaction and meaning in destructive acts.
As this 1967 movie approached its climax I realized that what really made the film stand out was how the titular characters were presented as full and compelling people but neither in a sympathetic nor an unsympathetic manner. Such a balancing act has rarely been achieved in art form.
Dave Kehr of the Chicago Reader has criticized the film because “the issue of violence is displayed more than it's examined.” I don’t disagree with this technically but I didn’t see the film as an exploration of violence but rather as a look at how people find meaning in their lives. The characters played by Beatty and Dunaway do this by violence but only because violence brings fame. The two don’t seem pleased when they have killed somebody so much as they are pleased by the fame that their robberies bring. In fact it is very clear from the aftermath of the first attempted heist we see of something other than a car that the two pull off that Barrow would prefer to not hurt anybody. But in the end both he and Parker do harm many people but doing so was mean of survival to enjoy the fruits of fame.
But what I really want to know is why isn’t the phrase “Get your pants on Boy! We’re taking pictures” a part of the American lexicon?