Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde Study Guide

Bonnie and Clyde is an American film directed by Arthur Penn, released in 1967, starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. The plot follows the criminal collaboration and love affair between Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in the 1920s in Texas. The film is Arthur Penn's best-known work, and it launched Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty into the public eye.

The screenwriters David Newman and Robert Benton wanted to create a film version of the lives of the two iconic killers in a tonally sophisticated way. Inspired by the techniques of French New Wave filmmakers, they sought to make a film that was at once comic and disconcerting, switching between more slapstick depictions and comic characterizations and grotesque images of violence and bloodshed. When they first sent it to Arthur Penn, he was already working on a film and could not commit to the project. After him, they sent it to acclaimed French director Francois Truffaut, who worked on the script but passed on directing. Godard also famously turned down the task of directing the film.

Upon its release, the film was notable for its candid and unflinching depiction of sex and violence. The ending, in particular, remains one of the most affectingly violent in Hollywood history. Additionally, the story of two misguided but idealistic lovers and criminals looking to buck the system in order to create meaning in their lives struck a chord with younger viewers, many of whom saw the film as an allegory for the countercultural shift that was taking place in America in the 1960s. The film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won two, one for cinematography and the other for Estelle Parsons' supporting performance as Blanche.