Fellow Film Club Members & Movie Buffs
The theme for this month is “true crime stories; films based on real events.”
The Indian summer has waned, and Autumn is officially upon us as thunderstorms, power outages, and flooding are our new companions. What better to do to shake off the dampness & chill than to go to a movie? Join the Tacoma Film Club this Friday, October 4, 2013 for the screening of the classic crime drama, Arthur Penn’s BONNIE & CLYDE (1967). ( Also keep in mind that our theatrical pick for this month, BLUE CAPRICE, opens up at the Grand Cinema on the same day).
Arthur Penn was equally at home directing in live theater or films. He won a Tony for his Broadway production of THE MIRACLE WORKER, and was nominated for two others with other plays he directed. He began working in theater in 1953, while directing over 40 television shows between 1953-58. He only directed 10 films during the first 25 years of his career. He studied under Michael Chekhov at the Actor’s Studio. He was fired while directing THE TRAIN (1964), & was replaced by John Frankenheimer; an old friend of his from the early TV days. He was nominated 3 times for an Oscar, but never won one; even though he directed eight actors to Oscar nominations, and three of them won. He did direct 18 movies from 1958-2001; some of my favorites included THE LEFT-HANDED GUN (1958), THE MIRACLE WORKER (1962), THE CHASE (1966), LITTLE BIG MAN (1970), NIGHT MOVES (1975), & THE MISSOURI BREAKS (1976).
Arthur Penn said: “With BONNIE AND CLYDE, I thought if we need to have violence in this picture, then let’s really show it–let folks see what it’s like when somebody gets shot. But hell, the nightly TV coverage of Viet Nam is bloodier than anything we came up with.”
Trivia: Jane Fonda had auditioned for the part of Bonnie, and wanted it desperately–has never got over being upset by Dunaway’s performance. There was a false rumor for years that she had turned down the part. Other actresses considered for the part of Bonnie included Tuesday Weld, Sue Lyon, Carol Lynley, & Ann-Margret. Interestingly, since Beatty was the producer pitching the project, before he took on the role of Clyde, he suggested his sister, Shirley MacLaine for the part. He did get Cher to audition at one point, and this outraged Sonny Bono, who felt the film was too controversial for her. Beatty tried to talk his old girlfriend, Natalie Wood, into playing Bonnie–but she was in the midst of some “therapy”, and so declined the offer; later that very night she attempted suicide, and was saved by her housekeeper.
Beatty wanted to shoot the film in Black and White, but Warner Brothers nixed the idea, and he originally wanted to cast Bob Dylan as Clyde, who looked a lot like the real gangster. Francois Truffaut was the first choice as director of the movie, and worked on the script, but the project took too long to develop, so he left it in order to make his own film FAHRENHEIT 451. Then the producers hired Jean-Luc Godard as director, but soon they realized he had a bizarre take on the story, wanting to film it in Japan, so Godard was “forced off the project”. Ironically, later Arthur Penn admitted that in terms of his handling of the movie’s violence, he was heavily influenced by the violence in several Akira Kurosawa films. Jack Warner hated the film during the studio screening, and so only released it initially to Drive-Ins & lesser theaters; but after the critics mostly loved the film, they promoted it & gave it a wider release. Still Warner Brothers had so little faith in the movie that they talked Warren Beatty into accepting 40% of the gross over his normal star’s salary–then the film went on to make 40 million dollars.
Morgan Woodward was originally cast as Sheriff Frank Hamer, but he was delayed finishing his filming on COOL HAND LUKE, so Denver Pyle replaced him. The real Blanche Barrow was very embarrassed by her portrayal in the movie, saying that Estelle Parsons played her like a “Screaming horse’s ass”. Parsons went on to win an Oscar for the role. In the original script for the movie, Clyde was bisexual, and had an affair with C.W. Moss, but Arthur Penn changed his status to just impotence. “We rob banks” is #41/100 of favorite movie quotes by AFI. The poem read by Faye Dunaway was the actual poem written by Bonnie Parker in 1932. Parker, in real life, was already married, when she ran off with Clyde Barrow. The real undertaker, played in the movie by Gene Wilder ( in his film debut ), was actually abducted as depicted–and after the death of Bonnie Parker, he was one of the undertakers that worked with her body. Beatty wanted the gunshots to be extra loud, like those in SHANE. Dunaway had to lash her leg to the gear shift in the death car to keep from falling out of the rocking vehicle. The death scene was shot with four different cameras, and it runs 54 seconds.
BONNIE & CLYDE (1967)
Directed by Arthur Penn @ 112 minutes.
The film stars Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Michael J. Pollard, Estelle Parsons, Denver Pyle, Dub Taylor, & Gene Wilder.
Synopsis: Based on the actual crime spree of Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow in 1930, we find a bored small-town girl & a small-time bank robber teaming up and leave in their wake a string of violent robberies, murders, & newspaper headlines that caught the imagination of the Depression-era Mid-West.
Tagline: They are young–they’re in love–they rob banks & kill people.
This film was nominated for 10 Oscars, & it won two, won (2) Baftas, and was nominated for (7) Golden Globes.
The film was lensed by veteran cinematographer Burnett Guffy, who had worked with John Ford on THE IRON HORSE (1923). He clashed with director Arthur Penn constantly. He was a proud opinionated man. He wanted to shoot the scenes with more light & color. Penn wanted more subdued tones. Guffy was fired for his views, but later was rehired, and went on to win his second Oscar for the movie. Ironically, it seems that Penn was right–the review from TIME OUT read: “With its weird landscapes of dusty, derelict towns and verdant highways, stunningly shot by Burnett Guffy in wonderful muted tones of green & gray, it has the true quality of folk legend.” Guddy lensed 97 films from the 1930’s to 1971, films like JOHNNY O’CLOCK (1947), KNOCK ON ANY DOOR (1949), ALL THE KING’S MEN (1949), FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953), for which he won his first Oscar, THE HARDER THEY FALL (1956), THE MOUNTAIN ROAD (1960), BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ (1962), KING RAT (1965), and THE GREAT WHITE HOPE (1970).
The film’s musical score was written by Charles Strouse, who wrote the scores for 16 movies from 1966-1999. He worked on the scores with other on over 100 films. BONNIE & CLYDE was his first feature film score.
ROTTEN TOMATOES rated the film with a Critics Approval of 90%, and an Audience Approval of 84%.
Pauline Keal wrote: “This is the most important American film since THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE–audiences loved it!”
Jessica Mellor ( EMPIRE MAGAZINE) wrote: “Funny & violent, knowing & chilling, this movie is the template that no lovers-on-the-lam films have ever bettered.”
Jake Eukor ( F5-WICHITA) wrote: “A film of enormous aesthetic & historical importance, American filmmaking turned a corner with its release, and it can never turn back now.”
Jonathan R. Perry ( TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) wrote: “This bloody, baroque godfather of post-modern American Cinema is one of the top ten films ever made.”
Roger Ebert wrote: “Only on the job six months, this film was the first real masterpiece I had ever seen–I felt an exhilaration beyond description.”
Yet Bosley Crowther of the NEW YORK TIMES, TIME MAGAZINE, and VARIETY all panned the film.
What we are dealing with here is a geniune American classic film. So be sure to mark your calendars for this Friday, October 4, 2013, and join TFC for the screening of Arthur Penn’s BONNIE & CLYDE (1967). It will screen at the Center for Spiritual Living, located at 206 North J Street, on the corner of J and Division, across from the Group Health Hospital. Arrive early, around 6:15 p.m., and join some of us downstairs in the newly remodeled kitchen area for fellowship. It is permitted to bring snacks and beverages, including wine, to share with others–but please remember, and respect the rule that there can be no food or drink upstairs in the sanctuary while watching the movie. Movie is screened at 7:15 p.m. and it runs 112 minutes, so it will be over by 9:15 p.m. Come join us for fun, fellowship, & films.