Monday, August 3, 2009

Crime doesn't pay, but Hollywood does!

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty vs. the real Bonnie and Clyde.

A couple weeks ago I watched Bonnie and Clyde (1967), directed by Arthur Penn, starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. I saw this film when I was a wee prepubescent (I'm guessing about ten or eleven) and had forgotten most of it. I mean, I didn't even remember that Gene Hackman had a substantial role (who doesn't love that guy?). I've been on a massive 1930s kick for the past year or more, and I put this movie on (thanks, Netflix) while I cleaned my bedroom. It's not one of my top favorites but it's another sinking ship story and I have a special place in my heart for those. I think the tragic criminal hero is one that draws people because we all feel like that a little bit, deep deep down. We make mistakes, we crave an escape from a world that isn't easy. Most of us don't go risking our necks for some idealized freedom, and we don't go ballistic when we get the urge. Movies about bank robbers during the Great Depression are very romantic in a sense. Desperate people doing horribly desperate things. It's like watching an addiction from the beginning to the end, a web that can't be un-spun. There's something I love about that. The characters are nutty, but you care about them, and when they die, it's more of a good feeling, like how I assume I was supposed to feel at the end of Thelma and Louise (1991). In conclusion, Bonnie and Clyde is a film I can get behind (at least once a decade).

In other Great Depression gangster movie news, I managed to see the new film about John Dillinger, Public Enemies (2009) directed by Michael Mann, starring Johnny Depp, Marion Cotillard and Christian Bale. I feel this film loses some of the 1960s warm and fuzziness of say, a Paul Newman-type criminal hero film. The only glamour can be found in the gorgeous costumes (oh baby those suits and hats and SUNGLASSES). The film lacks something, and I can't even tell you what. I felt it was well acted but maybe the more modern, attempted realism of the film made it lose a little heart. I read about John Dillinger here and it seems like the older ladies sitting behind me in the theatre were quite correct in whispering that the film was getting some facts wrong (as it happens, I read a little on the Barrow Gang, and there are many details missing from Bonnie and Clyde as well). The film was interesting, and very violent, and maybe the fact that I didn't care quite as much for it simply proves that it reminds the audiencethat (most?) people who kill other people are scary and dangerous....
Look at his SUNGLASSES! Oh, and there's the real Dillinger.

I also have to include the following picture for one reason and one reason alone: Look at the expression on this adorable man's face. There he is on set with his gigantic pretend killing machine and he has the face of a person who wouldn't hurt a fly. Le sigh....oh and that suit.

P.S. Here's the link to some Bonnie Parker poems. There's even a picture of a page from her notebook with her handwriting.


Andi B. Goode said...

Yes, I felt there was definitely something lacking in Public Enemies. At least it has Johnny Depp to look at, though ;]
-Andi x

yiqin; said...

Ah my favorite criminal couple :D

Denise @ Swelle said...

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog, yours is fantastic!

I've been wanting to get out and see Public Enemies and have nothing against a film lacking a little something as long as the aesthetics are brilliant (Marie Antoinette, anyone?), but it sure helps to know in advance and avoid disappointment!

Wasn't it announced a while back that Hilary Duff is going to star in a Bonnie & Clyde remake? I thought I had buried that memory but apparently I didn't go deep enough.

The Clothes Horse said...

Bonnie&Clyde is definitely my favorite "style" film, but I feel the directing/story line is a little awkward at times. I'm looking forward to seeing Public Enemies.

Margaux said...

Denise-OH my Goodness, I ALSO read that there was going to be a remake of Bonnie and Clyde with Hilary Duff. I'm sort of praying it was one of those Ideas/rumors that'll eventually just melt away and never be seen or heard of again.