Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Strangest Damn Gang You Ever Heard Of

All right, guys. This is the big one. Sheer movie-watching joy. The best film of 1967, no matter what AMPAS said. Yes, Lance Mannion's Wednesday Night at the Movies brings you Arthur Penn's masterpiece, Bonnie and Clyde. The Siren is hoping all her commenters show up at 10 pm EDT at Newcritics ready to pay tribute to Warren Beatty's grin and Faye Dunaway's beret. Newcritics is back with the living after a nasty run-in with some malware bandits, so post away without fear. As a little shot from the hip flask, here are just five things, out of probably at least five hundred, that the Siren loves about Bonnie and Clyde:

1. The superb control of tone. Take the scene with a kidnapped Gene Wilder, which starts out mocking the squares in a way that's very 60s without killing the period ambience. And then, when Wilder tells them his profession, Penn cuts to Dunaway's face, and the scene is suddenly the very darkest kind of foreshadowing. Split-second abrupt, and smooth as Talisker.

2. The tender, whispery-quiet family reunion scene that functions as the funeral we never see.

3. The beauty of Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. All the Siren can say to that is, damn.

4. The supremely witty script from David Newman, Robert Benton and the uncredited Robert Towne. Some say that screenplays are about structure, not dialogue. This one has both, the light-and-dark interplay between the episodes kept moving along perfectly, while the dialogue is always spare but telling.

5. The music. Boy, does this bring out the Siren's inner Alabama. In a good way, of course.


Vanwall said...

I like the Talisker allusion, the idol of Skye, indeed it is and my fave. Movies ain't been the same since Bonnie & Clyde - and thank God for that. Weird fact - the death car was restored to drivable condition and driven in some sort of cross-country car rally in '87, and the damnedest, most creepy thing I heard from the drivers was the eerie whistling noises it made at speed from all the bullet holes. Yeech.

Karen said...

That was a great time over at Newcritics, Siren! Wow, Rick and Chuck were just fonts of info for new ways to think about this film.

(And I agree with Mr C.: bluegrass is definitely the most highly-evolved form of C&W...)

Bob Westal said...

Curious, I tried to poke me head in and see what a latecomer could -- and I got another of those scary Internet warnings. Was the attack resumed or was that to punish me for the temerity of seeing if the party was still going...?

Vanwall said...

Thanks for the tidbit on Newcritics. My allusion was to the impermanence of popular perceptions and revolutionary treatments thereof - the original has become a sideshow, could the events of the film 's time of making become no less a blow-off? Copies of 'Rat Subterranean News', reading of choice for Sam Melville and Jane Alpert, the United Fruit Company Bombers, were offered for sale not to long ago - "Collector's Items" was the billing.

lylee said...

Gah, I wanted to join the discussion at Newcritics, but alas, didn't get home that night until past 11 pm Pacific time, long after y'all had closed shop. But it looked like a great discussion.

I just have to say that even though I went into B&C knowing how it ended, knowing that it was *known* for that last, shocking scene...and yet, I was still shocked. And I thought the violence to Bonnie was far more sadistically framed than the violence to Clyde.

And yes, those kids were gorgeous. Faye: breathtaking. I wanted her clothes. Warren: well, let's just say in one of their failed lovemaking scenes he is wearing a wifebeater and all I could think was: never has an impotent man looked so eminently f***able. The irony was almost painful. I suppose, in a way, that was the point.

Family reunion scene was almost spooky. At first I thought it was a dream scene. It seemed almost sepia-tinted, or something.

Dan Leo said...

Lylee, that hazy effect in the family reunion scene was gotten by putting ordinary window-screening over the camera lens!