Sometimes a filmmakers only makes one movie and then retires
Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde was a lightning bolt of a film, and while it took some time to gain traction in theaters, it eventually changed the landscape of Hollywood forever. The film, starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in the title roles, was violent and crafted in ways nobody had ever seen in America. Bonnie and Clyde opened the door for the new 70s model of letting new creators direct legendary films and break part the traditional studio system.
Here are 14 interesting facts about Bonnie and Clyde from 1967…
1. Producer Warren Beatty requested that the sound of gunshots in the movie should be much louder than the rest of the soundtrack. However, at a screening in London he noticed that the gunfire sounds were much softer than intended. He went to the projection booth, where the projectionist told he that he had “helped” the film by adjusting the gunfire sounds.
2. Michael J. Pollard didn’t realize in eating scenes that you don’t actually eat all the food because of the possibility of repeated takes. Sure enough, he soon regretted it in the scene in which the outlaws kidnap a couple and eat their lunch in the car. By the 12th take, Pollard was feeling decidedly ill, having had to eat 12 whole hamburgers.
3. This is the film debut of Gene Wilder.
4. The real Blanche Barrow sued Warner Brothers over the way she was depicted in the film. In reality, Barrow was the same age as Bonnie Parker, arguably better looking than her, she was not a preacher’s daughter and had married Buck knowing full well that he was an escaped prisoner and twice divorced.
5. Warner Brothers had so little faith in the film that, in an unprecedented move, it offered its first-time producer Warren Beatty 40% of the gross instead of a minimal fee. The movie then went on to gross over $50 million.
6. Gene Hackman was on the set one day when he noticed a guy standing behind him and staring. The man said, “Hell, Buck would’ve never wore a hat like that.” Hackman turned around and looked at him and said, “Maybe not.” He looked like an old Texas farmer. The man introduced himself and said, “Nice to meet you – I’m one of the Barrows.”
7. The family gathering scene was filmed in Red Oak, Texas. Several local residents were watching the film being shot, when the filmmakers noticed Mabel Cavitt, a local school teacher, among the people gathered. She was chosen then and there to play Bonnie Parker’s mother.
8. Faye Dunaway became a fashion icon after this film, as thousands of berets similar to the one she wore were sold worldwide.
9. Roger Ebert had only been a film critic for six months when he saw this film and hailed it as the first masterpiece he had seen on the job.
10. Bonnie’s family reunion scene was shot through a window screen to give it a hazy, nostalgic effect.
11. During one of the bank robberies, Buck Barrow does a leap over the tellers’ cage. This was a stunt routinely pulled by John Dillinger, who in turn learned it from watching Douglas Fairbanks in the Zorro movies.
12. Originally writers Robert Benton and David Newman wrote Clyde Barrow as a bisexual, a point which they felt was non-negotiable. Warren Beatty had no objections but Arthur Penn did. He felt that to have Clyde be part gay on top of all the other social dysfunctions featured in the film would just make the audience think they were watching a bunch of freaks. Benton and Newman couldn’t help but agree.
13. When Warren Beatty was on board as producer only, his sister Shirley MacLaine was a strong possibility to play Bonnie. But when Beatty decided to play Clyde himself, for obvious reasons he decided not to use MacLaine.
14. One of Arthur Penn’s intentions was to make the character of Blanche as hysterical as possible so that it would make Bonnie look even cooler.