Critical Insights Film: Bonnie & Clyde Review

“The real life criminal couple Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow could never foresee that their notorious lives and deaths would be made into art. The award-winning 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde is the subject of this volume in the Critical Insights Film series. In closely examining the film, the volume advances compelling criticism that exposes themes of gender, style, genre, and much more.

A brief opening section provides important background. One chapter establishes the connection between still photography—crucial to creating the public’s impression of the real-life duo—and the contemporary film medium. The other provides a brief but useful biography of the film's director, Arthur Penn.

The Critical Contexts section covers topics external to the film, such as the turbulent era in which the film premiered and the critical response it received. "'You’ve Heard the Story of Jesse James': Bonnie and Clyde and the Gangster Film," an essay by Alexander Davis, compares Bonnie and Clyde to the greater canon of crime movies reaching back to the 1930s.

The larger Critical Readings section includes essays examining the many elements working within the film. Several essays offer diverse takes on gender; arguing, for example, about the nature of masculinity as it has evolved from the 1930s through the 1960s. Elena Trencheva writes on the influence of costume design in "She is a Peach; He is a Dandy: Style as Longing in Bonnie and Clyde," and Richard L. Edwards explores Penn’s manipulative use of borrowed imagery in his piece "'We rob banks': Cinematic Thievery in Bonnie and Clyde."

Essays typically include notes and cited works. Supplementary material at the end of the volume is generous and includes the film's cast, credits, awards, a chronology of Arthur Penn’s life, his filmography, a bibliography, and an index.”
—ARBA Staff Reviewer