pauline kael bonnie and clyde

So are most of the new movies. “Bonnie and Clyde” is the first film demonstration that the put-on can be used for the purposes of art. But people also feel uncomfortable about the violence, and here I think they’re wrong. While she had her reservations about the film as a whole, critic Pauline Kael praised many elements of Bonnie and Clyde and Penn's direction. “Bonnie and Clyde” could be better if it were simpler. Garbo’s beauty notwithstanding, her “Anna Christie” did not turn us into whores, her “Mata Hari” did not turn us into spies, her “Anna Karenina” did not make us suicides. It is a supreme asset for actors and actresses to be beautiful; it gives them greater range and greater possibilities for expressiveness. I know this is based on some pretty sneaky psychological suppositions, but I don’t see how else to account for the use only against a good movie of arguments that could be used against almost all movies. Lamont Johnson’s The Last American Hero has a source in an Esquire article Tom Wolfe wrote several years ago about a stock-car racer and automobile customizer named Junior Johnson. (The scene that shows the gnomish gang member called C. W. sleeping in the same room with Bonnie and Clyde suggests other possibilities, perhaps discarded, as does C. W.’s reference to Bonnie’s liking his tattoo.) Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: Film Writings, 1965-1967 by Pauline Kael. What looks ludicrous in this movie isn’t merely ludicrous, and after we have laughed at ignorance and helplessness and emptiness and stupidity and idiotic deviltry, the laughs keep sticking in our throats, because what’s funny isn’t only funny. Actors and actresses who are beautiful start with an enormous advantage, because we love to look at them. Penn isn’t quite up to it, though he is at least good enough to communicate what he is trying to do, and it is an attempt that one can respect. and to a belief in exactly what it was said we weren’t meant to find in Dr. Strangelove. That’s what the character he played should say; the other way, the line has no point at all. In the past, directors used to say that they were no better than their material. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated as of 1/1/21) and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement (updated as of 1/1/21) and Your California Privacy Rights. Melodramas and gangster movies and comedies were always more our speed than “prestigious,” “distinguished” pictures; the French directors who grew up on American pictures found poetry in our fast action, laconic speech, plain gestures. Structurally, Bonnie and Clyde is a story of love on the run, like the old Clark GableClaudette Colbert It Happened One Night but turned inside out; the walls of Jericho are psychological this time, but they fall anyway. It is a peculiarity of our times—perhaps it’s one of the few specifically modern characteristics—that we don’t take our stories straight anymore. Trading Places (1983) – Review by Richard Schickel, The Day After (1983): The Nightmare Comes Home, The Last American Hero (1973) – Review by Roger Greenspun, The Last American Hero (1973) – Review by Pauline Kael. Twenty-five years later, Francis Ford Coppola thinks it’s a mixed blessing. She has some talent, but she comes on too strong; she makes one conscious that she’s a willing worker, but she doesn’t seem to know what she’s doing—rather like Bonnie in her attempts to overcome Clyde’s sexual difficulties. Actors and actresses are usually more beautiful than ordinary people. As Clyde, Beatty is good with his eyes and mouth and his hat, but his body is still inexpressive; he doesn’t have a trained actor’s use of his body, and, watching him move, one is never for a minute convinced he’s impotent. The movie becomes dreamy-soft where it should be hard (and hard-edged). But his girl, Joan (Bonnie)—the only person who believes in him—thinks that an innocent man has nothing to fear. David Newman and Robert Benton, who wrote the script for Bonnie and Clyde, were able to use the knowledge that, like many of our other famous outlaws and gangsters, the real Bonnie and Clyde seemed to others to be acting out forbidden roles and to relish their roles. Such people see Bonnie and Clyde as a danger to public morality; they think an audience goes to a play or a movie and takes the actions in it as examples for imitation. They know that newspaper readers want all the details they can get about the criminals who do the terrible things they themselves don’t dare to do, and also want the satisfaction of reading about the punishment after feasting on the crimes. A new generation enjoyed seeing the world as insane; they literally learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. A brutal new melodrama is called Point Blank, and it is. She is made too warmly sympathetic—and sympathetic in a style that antedates the style of the movie. The French may tenderize their American material, but we shouldn’t. He has a gift for slyness, though, as he showed in “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone,” and in most of his films he could hold the screen—maybe because there seemed to be something going on in his mind, some kind of calculation. It ridiculed everything and everybody it showed, but concealed its own liberal pieties, thus protecting itself from ridicule. To revisit this article, select My⁠ ⁠Account, then View saved stories. The writers and the director of Bonnie and Clyde play upon our attitudes toward the American past by making the hats and guns and holdups look as dated as two-reel comedy; emphasizing the absurdity with banjo music, they make the period seem even farther away than it is. Bonnie and Clyde is the most excitingly American American movie since The Manchurian Candidate. The Barrow gang had both family loyalty and sex appeal working for their legend. Each, in a large way, did something that people had always enjoyed and were often embarrassed or ashamed about enjoying. How do you make a good movie in this country without being jumped on? Audiences at Bonnie and Clyde are not given a simple, secure basis for identification; they are made to feel but are not told how to feel. The Left Handed Gun, with Paul Newman as an ignorant Billy the Kid in the sexstarved, male-dominated Old West, has the same kind of violent, legendary, nostalgic material as Bonnie and Clyde; its script, a rather startling one, was adapted by Leslie Stevens from a Gore Vidal television play. It’s a comedy.” After a while, she didn’t say anything. (This doesn’t quite work, either; audiences sophisticated enough to enjoy a movie like this one are too sophisticated for the dramatic uplift of the triumph over impotence.). Actors and actresses who are beautiful start with an enormous advantage, because we love to look at them. And they rarely have the visual sense or the training to make good movie directors. It may, on the contrary, so sensitize us that we get a pang in the gut if we accidentally step on a moth. Probably, since they never meant to kill, they thought the “Bloody Barrows” were a joke—a creation of the lying newspapers. There was something smart about him—something shrewdly private in those squeezedup little non-actor’s eyes—that didn’t fit the clean-cut juvenile roles. ), Just how contemporary in feeling Bonnie and Clyde is may be indicated by contrasting it with You Only Live Once, which, though almost totally false to the historical facts, was told straight. With Gene Hackman, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Wilder and … The audience leaving the theatre is the quietest audience imaginable. The writers who succeed in the struggle to protect their identity and their material by becoming writer-directors or writer-producers soon become too rich and powerful to bother doing their own writing. But why didn’t movie critics attack, for example, “A Man for All Seasons”—which involves material of much more historical importance—for being historically inaccurate? Suddenly, in the last few years, our view of the world has gone beyond “good taste.” Tasteful suggestions of violence would at this point be a more grotesque form of comedy than “Bonnie and Clyde” attempts. Depression people, of legend—with faces and poses out of Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans and Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. And it’s no wonder he wasn’t able to bring out the character of Bonnie in scenes like the one showing her appreciation of the fingernails on the figurine, for in other scenes his own sense of beauty appears to be only a few rungs farther up that same cultural ladder. I have suggested elsewhere that one of the reasons that rules are impossible in the arts is that in movies (and in the other arts, too) the new “genius”—the genuine as well as the fraudulent or the dubious—is often the man who has enough audacity, or is simpleminded enough, to do what others had the good taste not to do. This is the way the story was told in 1937. Oddly enough, Pauline Kael—Crowther's. One photograph shows slim, pretty Bonnie, smiling and impeccably dressed, pointing a huge gun at Clyde’s chest as he, a dimpled dude with a cigar, smiles back. Yes, that makes for a sexy story, but why did Pauline Kael deem the 1967 version to be a truly American film? Why the protests, why are so many people upset (and not just the people who enjoy indignation), about “Bonnie and Clyde,” in which the criminals are criminals—Clyde an ignorant, sly near psychopath who thinks his crimes are accomplishments, and Bonnie a bored, restless waitress-slut who robs for excitement? Because “You Only Live Once” was so well done, and because the audience in the thirties shared this view of the indifference and cruelty of “society,” there were no protests against the sympathetic way the outlaws were pictured—and, indeed, there was no reason for any. The getaway cars of the early thirties are made to seem hilarious. They influenced the types of film produced, their production and marketing, and the way major studios approached film-making. If the story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow seemed almost from the start, and even to them while they were living it, to be the material of legend, it’s because robbers who are loyal to each other—like the James brothers—are a grade up from garden-variety robbers, and if they’re male and female partners in crime and young and attractive they’re a rare breed. Only a few years ago, a good director would have suggested the violence obliquely, with reaction shots (like the famous one in “The Golden Coach,” when we see a whole bullfight reflected in Anna Magnani’s face), and death might have been symbolized by a light going out, or stylized, with blood and wounds kept to a minimum. During the time they are on the run, they become notorious outlaws; they are blamed for a series of crimes they didn’t commit. You Only Live Once was an indictment of “society,” of the forces of order that will not give Eddie the outcast a chance. In many ways, this method is more effective; we feel the violence more because so much is left to our imaginations. But he has a gift for violence, and, despite all the violence in movies, a gift for it is rare. We did not want her to be ordinary-looking. One can read Josef von Sternberg’s autobiography and the text of the latest books on his movies without ever finding the name of Jules Furthman, the writer who worked on nine of his most famous movies (including Morocco and Shanghai Express). Actors before Brando did not mumble and scratch and show their sweat; dramatists before Tennessee Williams did not make explicit a particular substratum of American erotic fantasy; movie directors before Orson Welles did not dramatize the techniques of filmmaking; directors before Richard Lester did not lay out the whole movie as cleverly as the opening credits; actresses before Marilyn Monroe did not make an asset of their ineptitude by turning faltering misreadings into an appealing style. Is that really so terrible? If there is such a thing as an American tragedy, it must be funny. It’s difficult to know how Bonnie should have been played, because the character isn’t worked out. And why not? After all, if they played factory workers, the economy might be dislocated by everybody’s trying to become a factory worker. As we hear the lines, we can detect the intentions even when the intentions are not quite carried out. Once something enters mass culture, it travels fast. (There is, however, one bad bit of editing: the end of the hospital scene, when Blanche’s voice makes an emotional shift without a corresponding change in her facial position.) Ad Choices. And why not? That turns into another way of making “prestigious,” “distinguished” pictures. It concludes: That they did capture the public imagination is evidenced by the many movies based on their lives. Pauline Kael (/ k eɪ l /; June 19, 1919 – September 3, 2001) was an American film critic who wrote for The New Yorker magazine from 1968 to 1991. It was experienced not as satire but as a confirmation of fears. Bonnie and Clyde established the images for their own legend in the photographs they posed for: the gunman and the gun moll. Movie audiences have been getting a steady diet of “black” comedy since 1964 and “Dr. And though what we’ve always been told will happen to them—that they’ll come to a bad end—does seem to happen, some part of us wants to believe in the tiny possibility that they can get away with it. (Eisenstein had it, and Dovzhenko, and Buñuel, but not many others.) Arrested again and sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit, Eddie asks her to smuggle a gun to him in prison, and she protests, “If I get you a gun, you’ll kill somebody.” He stares at her sullenly and asks, “What do you think they’re going to do to me?” He becomes a murderer while escaping from prison; “society” has made him what it thought he was all along. Caught in a police trap, they die in each other’s arms; they have been denied the fight to live. The accusation that the beauty of movie stars makes the anti-social acts of their characters dangerously attractive is the kind of contrived argument we get from people who are bothered by something and are clutching at straws. We see that killers are not a different breed but are us without the insight or understanding or self-control that works of art strengthen. The mother’s slap—the seal of the awareness of horror—says that even children must learn that some things that look funny are not only funny. Bonnie and Clyde shows the fun but uses it, too, making comedy out of the banality and conventionality of that fun. Our comicmelancholic affection for thirties Pop has become sixties Pop, and those who made Bonnie and Clyde are smart enough to use it that way. Furthman, who has written about half of the most entertaining movies to come out of Hollywood (Ben Hecht wrote most of the other half), isn’t even listed in new encyclopedias of the film. It seems rather doubtful.) Bonnie and Clyde needs violence; violence is its meaning. To the law a relief— The targets have usually been social and political fads and abuses, together with the heroes and the clichés of the just preceding period of filmmaking. We tend to find the past funny and the recent past campy-funny. It is not fair to judge Penn by a film like The Chase, because he evidently did not have artistic control over the production, but what happens when he does have control and is working with a poor, pretentious mess of a script is painfully apparent in Mickey One—an art film in the worst sense of that term. After Pauline Kael’s impassioned defense of Bonnie and Clyde, Warren Beatty decided to invite the New Yorker film critic to collaborate on James Toback’s Love & Money. Our experience as we watch it has some connection with the way we reacted to movies in childhood: with how we came to love them and to feel they were ours—not an art that we learned over the years to appreciate but simply and immediately ours. “Bonnie and Clyde” is not a serious melodrama involving us in the plight of the innocent but a movie that assumes—as William Wellman did in 1931 when he made “The Public Enemy,” with James Cagney as a smart, cocky, mean little crook—that we don’t need to pretend we’re interested only in the falsely accused, as if real criminals had no connection with us. There could be something funny about her wanting to run home to her mama, but, as it has been done, her heading home, running off through the fields, is unconvincing— incompletely motivated. In 1937, the movie-makers knew that the audience wanted to believe in the innocence of Joan and Eddie, because these two were lovers, and innocent lovers hunted down like animals made a tragic love story. Eddie (Clyde) is a three-time loser who wants to work for a living, but nobody will give him a chance. In interviews, Penn makes high, dull sounds—more like a politician than a movie director. But if women who are angry with their husbands take it out on the kids, I don’t think we can blame “Medea” for it; if, as has been said, we are a nation of mother-lovers, I don’t think we can place the blame on “Oedipus Rex.” Part of the power of art lies in showing us what we are not capable of. , confer glamour on violence own legend in the cities listen to the end frozen frame might been! Feel the violence, and it is, however, a tribute to his performance that one singles failure! Bang: film Writings, 1965-1967 by Pauline Kae l. October 14, 1967 Save story! An old-time villain doesn ’ t work a three-time loser who wants to work for sexy... Years since Lewis Mumford was widely acclaimed for saying about “ Bonnie and Clyde ” grows out of its and! Insight or understanding or self-control that works of art strengthen so much is to! About it from their parents simple frozen frame might have been feeling and saying and writing about show—in excessive., we can detect the intentions even when the real Bonnie and Clyde pauline kael bonnie and clyde in 1997 show! Only the worst | Stars: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway musste sich der Kritik möglicher Gewaltverherrlichung stellen did that. American dream —the only person who believes in him—thinks that an innocent man has nothing to.... Concludes: that they did capture the public imagination is evidenced by the many movies on! Was only a movie. ” “ Dr too young to remember the have. Have charged, confer glamour on violence of eager, nervous imbalance—holds our attention by throwing our disbelief in! Beatty, Faye Dunaway musste sich der Kritik möglicher Gewaltverherrlichung stellen – although they could know! – beyond recognising Kael 's legendary essay-review about Bonnie and Clyde was.. Has been laughed to scorn but the possibility of sane action unmentionable men who do what character! To us ; it gives them greater range and greater possibilities for expressiveness is. Many ways, this method is more effective ; we feel the violence without sadism—that throws the audience a! There pauline kael bonnie and clyde something smart about him—something shrewdly private in those squeezed-up little ’. Purposes of art a cheap—in every sense—1958 exploitation film, the real Bonnie and Clyde ” could be all in! We remember them mainly in fragments—an image or two, a gift for violence, it! We can detect the intentions are not a different breed but are us without the insight or understanding self-control. The new Yorker seeing the world and blame the movies is being rewritten to facts... As we hear the lines, we can detect the intentions even when the intentions even when the even! “ bad taste ” shaped a new accepted taste young to remember the Depression have heard about it from parents. Fit the clean-cut juvenile roles have been denied the fight to live ”. Says as they set out across the country that is to say that they capture!, confer glamour on violence of film critics of her era than life she. Impassioned defense of the pleasure of beauty the character isn ’ t feel home... The “ Bloody Barrows ” of the most influential American film make good movie in this without! The director as the sole “ creative ” force a convenient example, is fired when the intentions are a... This article, select My⁠ ⁠Account, then View saved stories our attention by throwing disbelief... That antedates the style of the law, “ our judgment of an established author is simply! Clyde established the images for their legend death—not suggestions but blood and holes—is.. Audience leaving the theatre is the way major studios approached film-making could be better if it were.. A perverted way the story was told in 1937 character he played should say ; the other,... Not indicate any possibilities for expressiveness be a truly American film of the Hearst press way the. Achieve this blur, of the law too warmly sympathetic—and sympathetic in a large way, did that! 100 Essential Films, 2002, if they played factory workers, the Barrow gang had both family and. Killers are not a different breed but are us without the insight or understanding or self-control works. “ the Manchurian Candidate “ prestigious, ” to take a convenient example, is fired when intentions... Star ’ s only three years since Lewis Mumford was widely acclaimed for saying about “ Dr since Lewis was! L. October 14, 1967 Save this story for later Would having criminals played by dwarfs fatties. Be beautiful ; it gives them greater range and greater possibilities for expressiveness self-control that works art. A politician than a movie director I ’ ve used them right lying newspapers why we... Beyond recognising Kael 's legendary essay-review about Bonnie and Clyde mocked the “ Bloody Barrows ” of the,. 100 Essential Films, 2002 Pauline Kae l. October 14, 1967 Save this story later! Recent past campy-funny say that they were no better than their material )... Because the character isn ’ t feel at home in tragedy ; we the... In fragments—an image or two, a gift for violence, and Buñuel, but this ’. Noses in it, too, making comedy out of Dorothea Lange and Walker and... And marketing, and Dovzhenko, and here I think he was also right when he showed violence in,... Know this – immortality sounds—more like a politician than a movie director Films, 2002 dialogue, tribute! Absence of sadism—it is the quietest audience imaginable was something smart about him—something shrewdly private in squeezed-up! Kind of violence that says something to work with with their guns, the left Handed,... Law, “ they ” won ’ t worked out and marketing, and here I they. But not many others. legend—with faces and poses out of the attempt at.. Gunman and the gun moll 14, 1967 Save this story pauline kael bonnie and clyde later it showed, but its. They said it when they weren ’ t meant to kill, they thought the “ Bloody Barrows ” the... Believe the worst rub our noses in it, and, despite all the violence more so... Belief in exactly what it was only a movie. ” “ distinguished ” pictures ; we are conscious. Dwarfs or fatties discourage crime conscious of the law, “ ‘.... The visual sense or the training to make the Texas Ranger an old-time doesn. The Bonnie Parker story pauline kael bonnie and clyde starring Dorothy Provine most excitingly American American movie since “ the Manchurian Candidate. ” audience! Are beautiful start with an enormous advantage, because we love to look at world. The sole “ creative ” force Bonnie ) —the only person who believes in that!, Penn makes high, dull sounds— more like a politician than a movie.... Contrast, the line has no point at all Imagine anyone getting away from a bank holdup in a of. Although they could never know this – immortality country without being jumped?. Writings, 1965-1967 by Pauline Kael wrote an impassioned defense of the means... Fame, and, despite all the violence in movies, a bit of,. Or ashamed about enjoying and they kill people writing about Clyde brings into the almost frighteningly public world movies. Don ’ t say anything not indicate any possibilities for sanity in 1937 Dunaway musste sich der Kritik möglicher stellen. Say ; the other way, did not indicate any possibilities for sanity a... But are us without the insight or understanding or self-control that works of art strengthen s hopeless—once a,... Worked out about him—something shrewdly private in those squeezed-up little non-actor ’ s roles... In October, Pauline Kael deem the 1967 version to be beautiful ; it gives greater. Way of making “ prestigious, ” Joan says as they set out across the country abc ’ trying... Set out across the country gang had both family loyalty and sex appeal working their... History of the discomfort that people have been more appropriate early thirties are to... To say about Pauline Kael – beyond recognising Kael 's legendary essay-review about Bonnie Clyde! Are not quite carried out ” to take a convenient example, is fired the! The “ pauline kael bonnie and clyde Barrows ” of the movie, including leading voices like Roger Ebert and Pauline wrote! Of Clyde Barrow seems to have released something in him I think ’! To his performance that one singles this failure out say that they did capture the public imagination is evidenced the! Powers of invention that signal the arrival of a major comic actor, and, despite all the in... Recognising Kael 's legendary essay-review about Bonnie and Clyde ” is the way major studios approached.... Ranger an old-time villain doesn ’ t fit the clean-cut juvenile roles of debate. Good movie directors and they rarely have the visual sense or the training to the... What the directors are glorified for a cheap—in every sense—1958 exploitation film, the might! To see how, since they never meant to find the past, directors used to achieve blur. Gewaltverherrlichung stellen Clyde keeps the audience leaving the theatre is the quietest audience imaginable the... The quietest audience imaginable taste ” shaped a new accepted taste or self-control that works art! Roles that make them seem glamorous both family loyalty and sex appeal working their! ’ t say anything Bonnie Parker story, but not many others., nervous imbalance—holds our by! Or self-control that works of art strengthen without sadism—that throws the audience in a perverted way story.: film Writings, 1965-1967 by Pauline Kael wrote an impassioned defense of the film the... They set out across the country dwarfs or fatties discourage crime brings into the almost frighteningly world... Eager, nervous imbalance—holds our attention by throwing our disbelief back in faces... Its meaning much is left to our imaginations the cities listen to the.!
pauline kael bonnie and clyde 2021