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When the Warren Beatty-Faye Dunaway film about Bonnie and Clyde premiered in 1967, actor James Garner, no conservative, criticized the film to Beatty. Garner hated how it glamorized and sanitized the outlaws who were, in point of fact, sadistic killers. By turns, the law enforcement officials who pursued them were fascist thugs in service to the banks.
The film was more a reflection of the late 1960s rather than early ’30s America. Bonnie and Clyde were transformed into fun-loving populists who robbed from the banks to give to the foreclosed poor. When they did engage in violence, it was against the “establishment” and the police who served it. The film depicted the pair as representing a way out of victimization.
Scene - Above - Pair - Texas - Ranger
A key scene that encapsulated all of the above was when the pair captured Texas Ranger Frank Hamer. Beatty’s Clyde worked himself up into frenzy when he blasted Hamer (played by Denver Pyle, whose previous work was as the bizarre mountain man on “The Andy Griffith Show”) as an Okie crusher. If not for Bonnie, Clyde would have gunned Hamer down on the spot. Instead, they tied him up and stuck him adrift in a rowboat.
For those offended by the 1967 film, “The Highwaymen,” a movie appearing this month on Netflix, will be applauded by the more historically minded who are less interested in polemics. In the film, the pair are not class levelers, but sadists hooked on violence. The actress playing Bonnie has none of the glamour of Faye Dunaway, whose clothing in the film inspired a fashion trend. Instead, she shoots downed policemen in the face.
Form - Kevin - Costner - Hamer - Propaganda
In the form of Kevin Costner, Hamer has been rescued from the propaganda of the Beatty film. Costner, who once egotistically played on his surfer looks, allows his age to show through. He is a...
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