The Original Gangster

         Many movies that we watched throughout class had a historical significance and development of a particular genre of films. One particular film I would like to take a look at is the film Bonnie and Clyde, directed by Arthur Penn in 1967. This particular film was so far ahead of its time it is unreal. This movie was considered as a “Gangster” film and took the genre to a whole new level. When you think about Gangster films, you think about guns, violence, women, and surprisingly romance; this movie had plenty of each.

         To begin with this film started out with Bonnie Parker, played by Faye Dunaway, walking around naked in her bedroom. What a great way to start any film, especially a Gangster film. For the late 1960s this scene was pushing it. Every Gangster film needs a beautiful woman in it, and in this case it was Faye Dunaway. Many modern films in this genre also do this; in the 1983 movie Scarface, directed by Brian de Palma, there is a beautiful woman that plays a significant part of the film; and the film makers might have drew inspiration from Bonnie and Clyde.

         Now let us take a look at all of the guns and violence this movie contained. Within the first ten minutes Clyde, played by Warren Beatty, was showing off his gun to Bonnie. This set the tone for the entire film. Shortly after showing off his gun, he was robbing a store because Bonnie did not believe that he had the guts. This is another important part in the development of Gangster films. In just about every film of this genre you have to prove to everyone else that you have what it takes to get the job done.

         In terms of violence this film really raised the bar. This was one of the first, if not the first, film to see the violence of guns. In the films leading up to this when a gun was fired, all you heard was just a pop and someone would fall. With Bonnie and Clyde you actually saw people die the way they would in real life with blood and suffering; which is very important in terms of Gangster films.

         One important, important part in the development of Gangster films is romance. This often goes overlooked. In the movie Bonnie and Clyde romance plays a significant role in the film. I know I deep referring back to the movie Scarface, but it is the optima of modern Gangster films. In the movie Scarface romance also played a very significant role. One would not think that romance would be important in Gangster films, but it is. Often the gang leader or boss will steal someone else’s girl or do something stupid, as in Bonnie and Clyde, because of a woman.

         While it may not be the first film classified as a Gangster film the movie Bonnie and Clyde set the precedent for future Gangster movies. This film significantly changed the development of the Gangster genre. I always find it interesting to see where modern films draw their inspiration, and I can see why modern films would model themselves after Bonnie and Clyde.

Sam Jackson

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