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THE STORY: During the American Great Depression, Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) is a young, bored waitress living in her mother’s home, feeling trapped by life itself. One afternoon, feeling particularly defused by it all, succumbing to the listless prattling hours by reclining naked on her bed, she peers out her window to see a handsome man attempting to break into her mother’s car. Excited by his bravado, she quickly calls out to him to wait, slips on a sun dress and heads outside where she meets Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty). The two talk, become smitten, and not long after, he’s held up a shop and taken the cash, then steals a car and drives off with her, starting a short life of harrowing robbery and murder that soon makes them some of the most wanted in the country.
Directed by Arthur Penn, the film was a hot bed of controversy on release, with many critics claiming it glorified violence, this in a time of sweeping tonal shifts in Hollywood as many directors were turning toward more grounded, realistic stories that often put the archetypical bad guy in a more romanticized light. While it earned high marks for its acting and story, many felt that the–at the time–graphic nature of the film was appalling, something unprecedented when hit theaters, and was reason for the deluge of films that followed portraying violence like never before seen. Either way, it proved popular with audiences and in the decades that followed, ranked as one of cinema’s most significant achievements.
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