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Bonnie and Clyde Print E-mail
Tuesday, 18 May 1999

Bonnie And Clyde

Warner Home Video
starring: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons
release year: 1967
film rating: Four Stars
sound/picture: Three Stars
reviewed by: Abbie Bernstein

32 years later, it’s hard for newer audiences to imagine the impact ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ had on its initial release. However, it’s easy to see the film’s influence in most of the outlaw-couple movies that have come down the pike in its wake. Director Arthur Penn and writers David Newman & Robert Benton have turned what could have been a sordid, squalid tale into the stuff of romantic tragedy.

As most folks know, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were a real couple who hooked up during the Depression and went on a bank robbery spree throughout the U.S. Southwest. As presented here, they want to impress each other, they want to escape the degrading, monotonous poverty that seems their only other option and they want fame. However, they’re far from natural-born killers. They don’t want to hurt anyone, but their gun-toting ways eventually lead to considerable bloodshed.

Faye Dunaway, a luminous near-newcomer when the movie was shot, makes Bonnie as bold and sexy as can be. Warren Beatty is charming, cocky and curiously innocent as Clyde. It’s refreshing to see both of these performers so relaxed and energized. They are backed up by a splendid supporting cast, including Gene Hackman as Clyde’s loyal brother Buck, Michael J. Pollard as dim but warm getaway driver C.W. Moss and Estelle Parsons, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Buck’s hysterical, out-of-her-element wife Blanche.

The film’s look is gorgeous -- cinematographer Burnett Guffey also won an Oscar for his work here -- and is beautifully captured by the DVD transfer. Chapter 16 has a stunning shot where the setting sun bathes a field in yellow light and Chapter 20 captures with perfect detail a cloud of mist hanging over a road in the moonlight.

The sound, however, is not so consistently pleasurable. The ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ DVD is in mono, so that some scenes have much more successful mixes than others. Chapter 3 contains a spunky rendition of the banjo tune "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and Chapter 5 shows off fine sound effects -- whining bullets, breaking glass, whipping wind and crying children -- but some dialogue sequences seem muted, to the point of being briefly blurry in Chapter 22. The DVD does faithfully retain the theatrical release’s use of music to usher the audience out after the end credits, with scoring that continues over a black screen for nearly a minute.

At the time ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ was made, it was nearly unheard-of to create a sympathetic criminal couple who are truly partners (come to that, it’s not too common now). Clyde wants Bonnie with him and can’t quite bring himself to banish her, even though he knows that by remaining at his side, she’s doomed; Bonnie would rather kill and die than leave him. This resolve in itself is conveyed strongly and persuasively enough to give ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ continued impact. The filmmaking is lyrical and powerful and even if one subscribes to the sentiment (summarized brilliantly by writer Jimmy McGovern in ‘Cracker’) that the couple’s victims deserve more sympathy than do the armed robbers, this presentation of their saga is engrossing all the same.

more details
sound format:
English Dolby Mono; French Dolby Mono
aspect ratio(s):
Enhanced for Widescreen TVs (exact aspect ratio unavailable); Full Screen Aspect Ratio: 1:3:3
special features: Production Notes; Theatrical Trailer; Chapter Search; Widescreen and Full-Screen Formats; French Language Audio Track; English Closed Captioning; French and Spanish Subtitles
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 27-inch Toshiba

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