American movies changed 50 years ago, when two seemingly unassailable outlaws met a parade of bullets and became the ultimate antiheroes.
“Bonnie and Clyde” opened Aug. 13, 1967, and helped to inspire a brazen new filmmaking style: more invigorating, violent and sensual. Coupled with “The Graduate,” which hit theaters four months later, it was clear that Hollywood would gravitate away from the nice, studio-assembled entertainment that once ruled. Even by contemporary standards, Arthur Penn’s classic is hip and bold.
“Bonnie and Clyde” also crystallized the fame of two of America’s most distinguished stars: Warren Beatty, who portrayed the smooth-talking stud Clyde Barrow, and Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker, the disenchanted waitress who lit up when the duo’s Depression-era crime spree took off. Bonnie went tit-for-tat with Clyde, discovering a flair for adventure aligned with the decade’s sexual revolution.
The duo had all the glamour of Old Hollywood, but they felt distinctly fresh, even in a period piece. They were proof that the naturalism embedded in European films was influencing American productions. In Dunaway and Beatty’s hands, Bonnie and Clyde weren’t villains ― they were everyday rascals, tired of life’s monotony. He sought fame; she wanted excitement.
At the movie’s premiere in Paris, Dunaway and Beatty looked every bit the part of the mid-century icon. They were more approachable than the glitzy old guard, without lacking the aspirational beauty that defined Hollywood. Fans emulated their characters’ style, as seen in the photograph below.
Each would go on to develop complicated legacies ― Beatty as a womanizer (until he settled down with Annette Bening in 1992), and Dunaway as difficult to work with (an idea embellished after she played Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest”). Still, they became Oscar-winning luminaries, and “Bonnie and Clyde” remains a signature of their resumes. They even reunited earlier this year to present the Oscar for Best Picture, again ensuring they won’t be forgotten, thanks (or no thanks) to an envelope snafu that promoted Dunaway to declare the wrong winner.
Below, marvel at these images from the “Bonnie and Clyde” premiere. They don’t make movie stars like Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty anymore.