Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

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Food: I got to enjoy a splurge meal when my parents came to town at Gran Tivoli in Nolita, and it was worth every penny. Their menu is set up to allow for people to share plates and get to try more than just their one designated meal, and we decided to take advantage of this getting two appetizers and three entrees for the three of us. First, the Prosciutto, Mozzarella dish which had San Daniele Prosciutto, Buffalo Mozzerella, Tusca Dwarf Peaches and “Tigelle” Lard Bread. We also got the Calabrian Salt Baked Baby Beet Salad, which included Cashew Nut Cheese, Young Sorrel, Beet Juice and Pickled Sour Strawberries. These two starters went well together, as both were light and not overly filling, but flavorful. Next, we got a combination of three various pasta/risotto plates. We got the Seafood Risotto which came with Hake, Monkfish, Tomato and Marjoram – which comes out in a hot pot, and the server divided out the portions on each of our small plates for us to save table room.  We also got the Orecchiette – made with Fine Broccoli Sauce and Anchovy – and the Sheep’s Ricotta & Spinach Gnocchi – complete with Picas Blue Cheese Sauce, Ricotta Salata, and Lemon Balm. All of these dishes were delectable and unique, but my favorite was the Orecchiette because I really enjoyed the saltiness of the anchovy which was subtle, but made a big difference.  My dad and I split a bottle of red wine. The atmosphere was pleasant and the service there was really spectacular. There was a not a moment when our water cups weren’t refilled, and they checked in frequently to adjust the plates around so that there was always ample room on the table. I would go again in a heartbeat if given the opportunity.

Film: As Roger Ebert so eloquently noted: “Today, the freshness of “Bonnie and Clyde” has been absorbed in countless other films, and it’s hard to see how fresh and original it felt in 1967 — just as the impact of “Citizen Kane,” in 1941, may not be obvious to those raised in the shadow of its influence.”

“Bonnie and Clyde” is one of the first of it’s kind that paved the way for so many proceeding classics like it, “Thelma and Louise” and “Natural Born Killers” to name a couple. As a pair of young lovers on the run, Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty play the infamous bank robbers of the 1930’s, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, with commanding on-screen romantic chemistry.

The best way to view this film is as though you are watching an old school cartoon, embracing stylized violence and absurdity. And though, I felt the dialogue and some of the editing made the film feel chaotic and convoluted at times, the performances mastered the tone so well, perfectly blending comedy and tragedy. Bonnie is swept up by Clyde’s glamorized pitch on poverty, and she jumps on the opportunity to glorify their antics by writing a ballad to the papers and posing for photos, cigar in tow.

With Beatty and Dunaway leading this film, it is not hard to imagine its cultural influence. Dunaway’s berets and maxi skirts (styled by Theodora Van Runkle) became a global fashion obsession, and it is not off base to say that this look still influences many style moments today. The soundtrack (Flatt and Scruggs) topped the charts. This film came at a time when it was exactly what the people wanted – moving cinema away from sweeping melodrama into a more tangible, turbulent, and authentic ground. It was like an updated Western, replacing horses with cars, and allowing the Texan desert to exist as a character of it’s own. As so often happens with film that are almost ahead of its time, Warren Beatty (as one of the producers) fought tirelessly for this film to be made, and then it ended up resulting in a sweeping 10 Oscar nominations, and launched the careers of both Gene Hackman and Gene Wilder, among others. “Bonnie and Clyde” also changed the way that violence was approached and shown on film.

The film interestingly chose to introduce a central theme of sexual frustration into the story, which is not entirely explained or fleshed out, but suggest homoerotic undertones from our main machismo hero, Clyde. He is inexplicably impotent throughout the film, resulting in several moments of extreme attraction and foreplay between the two main leads, who are unable to consummate their feelings. It is even been theorized that their violent exploits give them the “release” or “climax” that they are unable to find in the bedroom. However, it is not ever clear why Clyde is unable to perform, and his final ability to have sex with Parker towards the end, diminishes the idea that he is actually suppressing his homosexual feelings (possibly for their companion in the film, C.W. the gas station attendant whom with at times he is quite affectionate). This is not uncommon for films of the 1960’s – see “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” – to brush over sexual themes and paint them in vague strokes in order to avoid being overly avert, mostly, just to make sure that these things make it into the film without complete public outcry. However, watching now, I think it would be much more interesting to allow the audience see Clyde flesh out these issues with himself, especially considering the masculine bravado he presents to others. Whether his character is actually gay, or attempting to compensate for insecurities, this is piece would have been worth exploring if it is going to be alluded to in the film at all.

Ultimately, there is no denying that “Bonnie and Clyde” is a masterpiece of American cinema, will continue to mark a turning point in film-making, and brought to light one of the most iconic duo’s of all time.

2 replies to “Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

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