Bullets On Broadway?

Bonnie & Clyde 4

Mixing murder and mayhem with romance, sixties-style damn-the-man social justice and humor was an odd if inspired choice in Warren Beatty’s and Arthur Penn’s 1967 film Bonnie And Clyde (written by David Newman and Robert Benton). It may not have had very much to do with the real-life escapades of the Depression era crooks, but it made for one hell of a good film that still stands up today.

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow singing?

Now that may be pushing it a bit, even straining the notions of sympathetic anti-heroes past the broadest definitions.

Bonnie & Clyde 1

No, I’ve never seen the Broadway musical Bonnie And Clyde (script by Ivan Menchell, music by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Don Black, with Emmy, Tony and Oscar nominations and awards among them). No one’s a bigger fan of dark, flawed anti-heroes than me. Do I fall for hapless fools in over their heads? Yep. Do I have a soft spot for mid-twentieth century crime sagas? If you stop by here at this site, you know better than to ask. But Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow (to say nothing of Buck, Blanche and sundry lawmen) bursting into song after a bloody shootout? Hmmmm.

Bonnie & Clyde 5

Well, apparently it played well, starting in 2009 in La Jolla, California and then Sarasota, Florida, though the musical’s 2011 Broadway run was short-lived, closing after only 36 performances. Still, there was enough popular and critical interest to warrant overseas productions in Japan, South Korea, the UK, Germany and the Czech Republic through 2016.

Bonnie & CLyde 6

No one’s saying gangsters and music don’t mix. Francis Ford Coppola’s 1984 Cotton Club is but one example, and I for one look forward to seeing the fully restored version of that film.  I honestly never minded the 1967 Bonnie And Clyde film’s romanticizing of those two rural southwest 1930’s nut-jobs, guilty of killing at least nine police officers, four civilians, and more inclined to rob small town grocery stores and rural gas stations than banks. I simply choose to appreciate the film as an entertaining work of art in its own right, divorced from the much more banal evil of the real-life crooks.

But sometimes theatre creatives have to understand that not everything makes for a good musical.

Bienville Parish, Louisiana. May 23rd, 1934.

Bonnie And Clyde Poster

The 1934 Ford V-8 was shot up pretty bad on that rural road in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, about 150 rounds from pistols, shotguns and automatic rifles. The man behind the wheel took 17 shots, the woman beside him was hit 26 times, both with several head wounds. It probably was every bit as gruesome as the slow-mo climax of Arthur Penn’s 1967 film Bonnie & Clyde, which did so much to revive interest in the Depression era crooks, romanticizing the duo into legendary status far beyond anything their real life short-lived crime spree deserved. By most accounts, Clyde Barrow died instantly from the first volley, Bonnie Parker lasting only a moment more as the fusillade continued.

Boonie CLyde MinI Series

You can picture the real Bonnie Parker, Faye Dunaway or Holliday Grainger, as you wish. Fashion magazine art directors want to do something with gangsters or gun molls? They do a Bonnie & Clyde pictorial. There’s been no shortage of non-fiction books, novels, feature films, TV/cable and direct-to-DVD films about Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, from Dorothy Provine in The Bonnie Parker Story in 1958 to this year’s The Highwaymen, each taking its own license. Lets guess that Bonnie And Clyde Vs. Dracula may not have been the most historically accurate of the bunch.

Bonnie & CLyde 4 Fashion PicsBonnie Clye 3 MoviesBonnie & CLyde VS Dracula

But it was eighty five years ago today on May 23rd, 1934 that the real duo met their end in a roadside ambush led by Texas lawman Frank Hamer and various Texas and Louisiana state and local police.

Good or bad, the legend lives on.

Bonnie & Clyde

Bardot’s Bonnie And Clyde

Brigitte Bardot - Bonnie & Clyde 6

Brigitte Bardot along with Serge Gainsbourg in photo sessions for the 1968 Bonnie And Clyde LP, with songs composed by Gainsbourg, sung by him and Bardot, including the main hit “Bonnie And Clyde” based on the poem “The Trail’s End” written by the real Bonnie Parker. This unusual album and the single was a mega hit in France, and even made it onto Spin magazine’s Top 100 Alternative Albums Of The 1960’s list.

Brigitte Bardot - Bonnie & Clyde 4Brigitte Bardot - Bonnie & Clyde 5Brigitte Bardot - Bonnie & Clyde 7Brigitte Bardot - Bonnie And Clyde 2Brigitte Bardot - Bonnie And CLyde 3

Bonnie And Clyde, 1991

Bonnie & Clyde 1

“Bonnie And Bonnie” might be a better title, this vintage looking photo suite recalling the poignant Parker family reunion sequence from the groundbreaking 1967 film Bonnie And Clyde, produced by star Warren Beatty, directed by Arthur Penn, with Burnett Guffrey in charge of cinematography.

Bonnie & Clyde 3

One might argue that photographer Peter Lindbergh’s 1991 Vogue UK shoot is no more historically inaccurate than the 1967 film was, even swapping supermodels Linda Evangelista and Karen Mulder for Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. But I didn’t mind screenwriters David Newman and Robert Benton playing fast and loose with the Depression era duo’s story anymore than I do Lindbergh, Mulder and Evangelista’s beautiful photos.

Bonnie & Clyde 4Bonnie & Clyde 7Bonnie Clyde 5Boonie Clyde 2Boonie Clyde 6Boonie Clyde 8

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑