Bonnie and Clyde, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is a landmark American film, telling the bloody and romantic tale of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow through an aural and optical barrage. Its director, Arthur Penn, used a pair of 1930s bank robbers to comment on nonconformist 1960s youth. Bonnie and Clyde (played by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway) were two nobodies, both damaged goods—horny, haunted, and out for blood. They weren’t the best robbers but they were great entertainers. When they weren’t killing or committing crimes, Bonnie wrote songs, trying to add a shimmer of hope to the gloom of the Great Depression years.
At the time it was released, the movie soared on its visual audacity and choice of fashion. In nearly every scene, Bonnie and Clyde looked good. And Beatty and Dunaway were near perfect in the title roles. (David Newman and Robert Benton gave them a great script—unlike the wrong envelope Beatty was handed at the 2017 Oscars—which they filled with sentiment.)
Fifty years later, the film holds up and not just for its photographic and fashion styles. Watching Bonnie and Clyde today, we see its brutality, amusement, beauty, sympathy, and distress—words that may not belong in the same sentence but comment honestly on the range of emotions we all experience.