Another show is over. The final performance of The 39 Steps at the Bristol Valley Theater came and went today, and I am currently packing up and getting ready to head back to New York City tomorrow. And for the first time this year, I do not have any immediate plans for any upcoming performing ventures. With an improv show in Las Vegas, an off-off-Broadway show in New York, a short film in Delaware and a play in Naples, it's been a busy year so far. Let's hope the next project is just around the corner...
Next up in the review of 1967's Best Picture nominees is...
Bonnie and Clyde
David Newman & Robert Benton
Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Denver Pyle, Dub Taylor, Evans Evans, Gene Wilder
2 wins, including Best Supporting Actress (Parsons)
It's the Great Depression and young Clyde Barrow (Beatty) is fresh out of prison for armed robbery. While attempting to steal a car, he is interrupted by the pretty Bonnie Parker (Dunaway). The two hit it off right away and, before you know it, they're planning bank robberies. At a gas station in the middle of nowhere, they pick up oddball C.W. Moss (Pollard), who agrees to join them on their criminal escapades. Soon, the gang grows in number again with Clyde's older brother Buck (Hackman) and his reluctant wife Blanche (Parsons). As their robberies become more violent, Bonnie and Clyde begin to attract the attention of law enforcement as well as the national media, who turn them into infamous superstars.
Bonnie and Clyde doesn't waste any time up front. The beginning moves at a swift pace with our two heroes (or, more accurately, anti-heroes) meeting in the first scene and running away together almost immediately. Even their first recruit, C.W. Moss, doesn't seem to require much time to think things through. He steals from his boss and hops into Bonnie and Clyde's car after knowing them for less than a few minutes. With such a fast-paced set-up, there is little time to familiarise ourselves with the situation but, since the couple's life subsequent to their meeting is very much the whirlwind, the speedy first act is actually quite appropriate, not to mention exciting.
What makes the story particularly interesting is its central relationship. In fact, it would be reasonable to describe the film as a story about a unique relationship, rather than a story about Depression-era bank robbers. Sure, they are bank robbers and this certainly plays a role in their relationship, but the film is clever to focus on how Bonnie and Clyde interact and grow. It is a fascinating affair - Clyde suffers from some kind of sexual dysfunction and Bonnie is bothered by the resultant lack of intimacy. In fact, with the gang always around, the two rarely find themselves alone, so it is more than merely sexual intimacy that they are forgoing.
Then there is the issue of celebrity. The newspapers write sensational stories about them, attributing far more robberies to their name than they actually committed. The hype reaches such heights that even their surviving victims are excited to be swamped by photographers and journalists listening to their tales. It seems this craving for a good story at the expense of the truth is not just a modern predicament.
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