Filmsite Movie Review 100 Greatest Films
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
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Plot Synopsis (continued)

Clyde feels committed to his own calling-card boast - so the two, all dressed-up in their stolen coupe, drive to their first real bank robbery together. He is jittery and apprehensive, assuring her: "Your mama could take this bank." Clyde nervously and ineptly enters the Farmers State Bank for a "stick-up" while Bonnie waits in the car. The bank he has chosen "failed three weeks ago" and is devoid of customers or funds. Embarrassed for looking foolish, Clyde has the sole bank teller come outside and admit to Bonnie that there is no money. She finds the situation hilarious and laughs hysterically as Clyde sulks, expressing his underlying frustration and anger as he shoots out the bank's front window: "We got a dollar ninety-eight and you're laughin'." [Clyde's first three bullets are impotent - the glass doesn't shatter until multiple shots are fired.] After narrowly missing an approaching small truck on the road, they speed off to the tune of a jaunty, honky-tonk, country-style, banjo tune. Desperate to live up to his image as a 'bank robber' who is avenging poverty itself, Clyde is anxious to try again, as the danger escalates.

The next hold-up is their second grocery store robbery, where Clyde (who pretends that he is a gun-toting customer before holding up the grocer) is attacked with a meat cleaver by a rotund butcher and wrestled to the ground inside the store. Clyde retaliates by bashing the man in the head with his pistol - drawing blood. With a bewildered, anguished tone as he jumps on the running board of their getaway car, Clyde innocently and naively tells Bonnie that he is horrified at the violence of the butcher. Morally indignant and incredulous, he can't believe that he is the target of violence - an omen of the escalating violence and resistance:

He tried to kill me. Why'd he try to kill me? I didn't want to hurt him.

During their madcap exploits, they have engine trouble with another stolen vehicle - a "4-cylinder Ford Coup-e." At a gas station, they accidentally meet a dim-witted, back-country, grinning attendant/mechanic named C. W. Moss (Michael J. Pollard) who fixes their vehicle. [Moss' character was a composite of two members of the real-life Barrow gang - William Daniel "W.D." Jones and Henry Methvin.] Quite impulsively, they invite him to join them and prove that he isn't "scared" or "afraid" after introducing themselves as bank robbers: "Have you got what it takes to pull bank jobs with us, Mr. C. W. Moss?" C. W. twirls around in disbelief, brags about spending one year in a reformatory, and makes his decision to join them by emptying the station's cash register. Clyde offers him the jump seat of their vehicle, and he unwittingly becomes a member of the Barrow Gang.

In his hospital bed where he is recovering from injuries, the butcher identifies the grocery store robber in a mug shot (# 990830). At the Puetts Tourist Court where they spend the night, Bonnie sleeplessly rolls over and listens to Clyde's loud snoring in bed next to her.

In their next holdup, their second bank robbery, both rural outlaws stick up an institution in the town of Mineola, while C. W. serves as their getaway-driver. As Clyde backs up with gun drawn through the bank door, he is framed by the teller's cage inside the bank. At first, they are unacknowledged because Clyde speaks so softly. The robbery goes awry when they can't find C.W.'s parallel-parked getaway vehicle (another stolen car!) and they are delayed in leaving town when blocked by other cars. Panicked, Clyde draws first blood when the elderly bank manager leaps onto the running board of their car and he reacts impulsively. The bullet smashes through the man's glasses and gruesomely blows off his face, point-blank, through the window of their car [invoking a similar image from Russian Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin (1925)].

After their foiled hold-up, they seek refuge in a movie theater, watching a scene from a 1933 Warner Bros film, Gold Diggers of 1933 [an impossibility in the year 1931] (lavishly choreographed by Busby Berkeley) in which beautiful blonde chorus girls dance with gold coins (including Ginger Rogers) and sing about material success: "We're In The Money." While Bonnie is transfixed by the movie's images and sits apart from the other two, Clyde berates C. W. for his stupidity: "You ain't got a brain in your skull. On account of you, I killed a man. Now we're all gonna be wanted for murder, and that's you too boy...What was you thinkin' about? If you ever do a dumb-ass thing like that again, boy, I'm gonna kill ya!"

In an attempt to emulate the screen actresses and identify with the images of the characters on screen, Bonnie dances and sings in front of her motel room mirror back at their hideout: "We're in the Money" and slips a chain of small, gold coins around her neck. Their latest episode causes Clyde to think of Bonnie's safety, and in a gesture of love, he gives her the option of leaving the gang and returning home because she can't be identified: "This afternoon, we killed a man and we was seen. Now so far, nobody knows who you are, but they know who I am and they're gonna be runnin' after me and anybody who's runnin' with me. And that's murder and now it's gonna get rough." Determinedly, she refuses to leave even though she could "get a rich man" if she tried:

Bonnie: I don't want no rich man.
Clyde: You ain't gonna have a minute's peace.
Bonnie: Do you promise?

Deeply touched by Bonnie's dedicated loyalty, Clyde embraces her on the bed and kisses her. After pulling the shade for privacy, his gun falls to the floor from the bed. They embrace again and Clyde struggles to consummate his love for her, but ends up frustrated. He breaks off their embrace, and then she tries unsuccessfully to rekindle their ardor. They end up sexually deprived and at different ends of the bed. With his back turned, Clyde again confesses his impotency, while Bonnie rests her cheek on his gun:

At least I ain't a liar. I told you I wasn't no lover boy.

Bonnie accepts his confession of sexual inadequacy with a shrug of her shoulders and a smile.

The pair are joined by Clyde's older, All-American, hearty, loud-mouthed, ex-con brother Buck (Gene Hackman) and his reluctant, but excitable, hysteria-prone, and flighty wife Blanche (Estelle Parsons). The first thing C. W. notices is a copy of their Screenland Magazine in the car, and as a movie fan, he asks if he can look at the pictures of his "favorite picture star" - Myrna Loy. Depicted as down-home, good-natured folk, Buck suggests getting out "the Kodak" camera and posing for their own glamour pictures. They begin to self-consciously create their own legend. One is taken of Clyde with a machine gun; another provocative pose shows an alluring Bonnie wearing a fashionable black beret, rebelliously smoking a cigar in her mouth, and casually holding a gun at her side.

"Tell me true, is she as good as she looks?" asks an inquisitive, back-slapping Buck when they are alone in the motel room. Clyde responds with sexual braggadocio: "She's better." They discuss the murder that Clyde committed and Buck asks for simplistic, reassuring clarification regarding his brother's moral code: "It was either you or him, wasn't it?...The guy that you killed, you had to do it, didn't ya? It was either you or him...You had to, you had to do it. Right?"

Clyde suggests moving on to Joplin, Missouri for a vacation, where their reputation hasn't traveled yet. He also tells his brother about how he chopped off two toes to escape work detail, and then was paroled the next week, leaving the "god-forsaken jail on crutches. Ain't life grand?"

On the road to Joplin (accompanied by twangy banjo music), the earthy Buck tells Clyde one of his corny jokes:

Hey, you wanna hear a story, about this boy, he owned a dairy farm, see. And his ol' ma, she was kinda sick, you know. And the doctor, he called him over and said, uh, 'Uhh, listen, your Ma, she's just lyin' there. She's just so sick and she's weakly. And uh, uh I want ya to try to persuade her to take a little brandy, see. Just to pick her spirits up, ya know.' And, uh, 'Ma's a teetotaler,' he says, 'she, she wouldn't touch a drop.' 'Well, I'll tell ya what ya do, uh,' that's the Doc. 'I'll tell ya what ya do, uh, you bring in a fresh quart of milk every day. And you put some brandy in it, see. And you try that.' So he did. And he doctored it all up with the brandy, fresh milk, and he gave it to his mama. And she drank a little bit of it. She didn't, you know.

So next day he brought it in again, and she drank a little more, you know. And so then, it went on that way. The third day, just a little more, and the fourth day, she was, you know, took a little bit more. And then finally, one week later, he gave her the milk and she just drank it down. Boy, she swallowed the whole, whole, whole thing, you know. And she called him over and she said, 'Son, whatever you do, don't sell that cow!'

In the new location, they rent an apartment over a garage for a month and begin to settle down as homebodies. Buck phones in a grocery delivery order for "about eight pounds of pork chops, four pounds of red beans, some Chase and Sanborn coffee, uh, about eight bottles of Dr. Pepper." They pass away the time playing checkers together, but eventually Bonnie grows impatient with their lack of privacy from the others:

Bonnie: Don't you ever just want to be alone with me?
Clyde: Well I always feel like we're alone.
Bonnie: Well, do ya baby?

When the groceries are delivered, the delivery boy looks back suspiciously at the curtains covering the second-floor window.

To entertain everyone that evening, Bonnie reads her latest poetic doggeral verse:

But few of them are really justified
If you get right down to the point
You've heard of a woman's glory
Bein' spent on a downright cur...
Still you can't always judge the story
As true, bein' told by her.
Now Sal was a gal of rare beauty
Though her features were coarse and tough...
She never once faltered from duty
To play on the up and up.
Sal told me this tale on the evenin'
Before she was turned out free
And I'll do my best to relate it
Just as she told it to me.

As she finishes the poem, Clyde happens to go to the window and sees a police car driving into the narrow driveway of their rented apartment in a stealthy manner - he nervously announces: "Hey, hey, the laws are outside." [This scene mirrors the film's opening scene when Bonnie spies down on Clyde checking out her mother's car.] High-strung Blanche lets out a high, hysterical scream, and bullets start to fly. In the wild, frenetic Joplin shoot-out with guns blazing, Buck races outside, kills one of the policemen, and then releases the hand brake on the police car blocking their driveway and entrapping them. Screaming throughout the entire scene, Blanche is separated from the rest of the gang as the rest of the gang members burst through the garage door in their fast-moving car and collide with the police vehicle to push it out into the street. The gang narrowly avoids capture or injury from groups of firing police in a roadblock when they must circle back and scoop Blanche up as she runs wildly down the street. Now, both Buck and Clyde will be wanted for murder after the heated gun battle.

As they speed away, Blanche continues to scream hysterically. Bonnie is fed up with Blanche's childish moaning and her whining to her husband after putting them all in mortal danger. Buck is unable to defend his wife's foolish actions, since he is now wanted for murdering a policeman - the stakes have been raised:

Bonnie: DAMMIT! You almost got us killed!
Blanche: What did I do wrong? I thought you'd be happy if I got shot.
Bonnie: Sure! Yeah, it would have saved us all a lot of trouble.
Blanche: Buck, don't let that woman talk to me like that.
Buck: You shouldn't have done that, Blanche. It was a dumb thing to do.
Blanche: Oh Buck, please. I didn't marry you to see you get shot at. Please, let's go, let's leave, let's get out of here and leave town. Please make him stop the car. I gotta stop.
Buck: I can't. I killed a guy. Now we're in this.
Blanche (in a shrill voice): Pleeaassee.

Outraged, Bonnie forces Clyde to pull off the road into a hayfield and stop the car where they exchange some heated words:

Bonnie: Get rid of her.
Clyde: I can't get... She's Buck's wife.
Bonnie: ..Get rid of them both.
Clyde: Why, whatsa matter with you anyway?
Bonnie: 'She' is what's the matter with me! She's nuthin' but a dumb, stupid, back-country...
Clyde: Now you look!
Bonnie: She ain't got a brain in her head.
Clyde: What makes you look better? What makes you so damned special? You was just a West Dallas waitress, spendin' half your time pickin' up truck drivers.
Bonnie: Oh big Clyde Barrow! You're just like your brother...
Clyde: Uh, huh...
Bonnie: ...ignorant, uneducated hillbilly, except the only special thing about you is your peculiar ideas about lovemakin' - which is no lovemakin' at all.

When Clyde pauses and then turns and walks away with hurt feelings, Bonnie soothes him and apologizes - they make up: "Please Clyde, I didn't mean that. Listen, it-it was just all that shootin'. I saw all those guns, I got so scared. Please honey, I didn't mean it."

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