Original Gangsters

         The film that I believe had the most value of historical content in the history of cinema that I viewed in class was Bonnie and Clyde, directed by Arthur Penn. I chose this film because of how violent it was for the decade of films in America that it came out in. When this film was released in 1967, critics were shocked by how violent it was, and from all of its sexual content. This film was the first gangster movie of its time, and all of the other gangster movies that have been released since, are similar clones. Another historical element of this film is the fact that the characters in it are real people because this film was one of the first of many clones in that category as well.

         One key element of this film is the violence. The settings and costumes play a huge role in the time span for the violence because they acknowledge to the viewers that the movie takes place in the 1930s. The dialogue in this film is top notch, and it is clearly the comic relief from all of the shoot-out scenes. Even though this film is labeled in a gangster genre, after watching it, I found that it is easy to label it in several other genres as well. Some people view this movie as a romance film because after all it does tell a story about two lovers. I can even argue that this film could almost be labeled as a thriller, because it is scary to think that this movie was about real people. This film also, to me, seems like a western, with cars instead of horses.

         Another historical contribution in this film is the acting in it. Warren Beatty had already won an Oscar in 1961, and his performance to me in Bonnie and Clyde will always be remembered because Clyde was so sexually frustrated. This was a counter role from Beatty's real world stud ego. A young Faye Dunaway also shows the acting potential that would later win her an Oscar in 1976's Network. In my opinion, she probably should have won for her performance in Roman Polanski's 1874 Chinatown as well.

         I think Arthur Penn did a great job directing this film as well just because he made it so violent. The violence in this film is a major influence shown in most movies that come out in today's modern world. I also admire Penn because he took on a project that Warren Beatty produced, when he had all of the authority to have Penn fired at any time. The music in this film is also excellent because it is different from what we would expect from a film this violent. The music also produces a western genre film feeling.

         The scene at the end of the movie is one of my most favorite endings in film history. You know Bonnie and Clyde are probably going to get caught, but you do not know if the film will actually show their deaths or not. The film not only shows their getting billed, but also their death scene is the most violent scene in the entire film. The background sound music is excellent because you can still hear the birds overhead when they get shot. My favorite quality of the final scene is Penn's close-up of both characters' eyes because they both clearly know it is over.

         In conclusion, almost every quality of this film is historical. The acting is probably my favorite because it showcased many young actors' talents, in their further roles to come. It amazes me how the relationship between the main characters is portrayed, because there is barely any sexual content between their relationship, and they still appear so in love. I know most relationships in the 1960s did not have as much sexual content as relationships today, but as a viewer you think it would be different for bank robbers. This film has it all from violence to romance and comedy, which instantly makes it a classic because it influenced so many film makers that violence can be funny. I believe every movie we watched in class this semester had historical cinema aspects, but this one was my favorite, and the one that I believe has the most historical film importance.

Chad Cooper

Table of Contents