With A $75 Beret.

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Liz Sullivan shoots Sveva and Jonathan Bella back in 1999 for a New York Post fashion editorial called “Bonnie & Clyde Inspired Fashion”. Let’s say ‘loosely’ inspired. Well, model Sveva is wearing a beret in a shot or two, and they did bother to rent a couple of 1930’s Fords and some weaponry. That aside, the link between the Depression-era southwest and clothes from Saks, Ralph Lauren and Emili Pucci is a bit thin. The sleeveless shell Sveva’s wearing at the top went for about $800.

BTW, the beret? Seventy five bucks at J.J. Hat Center, and that was twenty years ago.

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Bonnie Parker…With Electric Guitars.

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When you go for the free movies on your cable provider’s on-demand menu, you can’t complain. And I wouldn’t anyway, even though American International Picture’s 1958 The Bonnie Parker Story starring Dorothy Parker (1935 – 2010) in the title role as the ‘better half’ of the notorious Depression era outlaw duo bears little resemblance to their real-life escapades…or even the now-mythical Arthur Penn-Warren Beatty-Faye Dunaway 1960’s anti-hero film classic.

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In this half of a drive-in double feature (paired with Machine Gun Kelly), Dorothy Provine’s Bonnie Parker is a broke, bitter, take-no-sass small town waitress saddled with a husband doing life in the pen. She teams up not with Clyde Barrow, but for some reason, ‘Guy Darrow’, played by Jack Hogan. Bonnie doesn’t set her eyes on him so much as the very lethal Thompson submachine gun he drags around in an enormous wooden tool box. After an exciting (albeit frustrating) series of small-time armed robberies, the duo briefly join up with Guy Darrow’s brother Chuck Darrow (not Buck Barrow) and his wife, the gang on the run now from Texas Ranger Tom Steel (a stand-in for Frank Hamer). After busting Bonnie’s husband, Duke, out of prison, an ill-conceived armored car robbery goes bad, Mister Bonnie Parker’s gunned down, and soon the outlaws are brought down in a hail of bullets by the Texas Ranger and his posse in a Louisiana backroads ambush.

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This is strictly an AIP B-movie (if that) production, obviously made fast, on a tight budget, with a script that could’ve used a revisit or two, and visibly aimed at the studio’s drive-in teenage audience, right down to the out-of-place twangy Rockabilly electric guitar and saxophone film score (which is really pretty cool, albeit out of place). Swap out the 1930’s automobiles for fifties cars with fins and it would play like a pair of doomed juvenile delinquents aiming for the big time, right down to Dorothy Provine’s long blonde tresses, snug pencil skirts and slender heels.

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She’s really something to see in this film, and the director makes sure we see a bunch (for the time), from the opening credits to several other scenes in which the camera lingers on Bonnie getting dressed or undressed. If she’s not shooting someone, Bonnie’s likely in a slip and rolling her nylons off or putting them on. We’ll leave that stuff for the horny teenage boys in the 1958 audience, and focus instead on Provine’s wicked performance. Small-time crook Guy Darrow and jailbird husband Duke Jefferson might be lusting after Bonnie (without success), but this femme fatale’s all about shooting back at an ugly world and the useless men in it…with a big, noisy and very lethal Tommy Gun.

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Bienville Parish, Louisiana. May 23rd, 1934.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Crime’s So Glamorous

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Edgy fashion and decadent art photography master Ellen von Unwerth has an eye for Bonnie & Clyde style gangsters. Even all that stolen loot won’t make things right when you’re on the run, it seems.

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Bonnie.

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Elise Digby channels Faye Dunaway from Arthur Penn’s groundbreaking 1967 film Bonnie & Clyde, as shot here by photographer Aram Bedrossian.

Bonnie & Clyde: Looking Good Doing It.

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“In a chase for power, pleasure, crime, lust, luxury and notoriety, Bonnie & Clyde live as one of history’s most infamous Public Enemies. Not only are they good at what they do, but they also look good doing it.”

Aram Bedrossion’s Bonnie & Clyde fashion editorial, echoing the camera-friendly crooks of Arthur Penn’s 1967 Warren Beatty-Faye Dunaway classic film.

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