Most of the praise around Bonnie and Clyde is concentrated on its graphically violent climax. Dede Allen’s editing of the moment when a pair of runaway bank robbers meet their end is suffused with the urgency, giddy romanticism and brutality that marked their career in crime.

Arthur Penn’s 1967 classic drama is available to rent on Prime Video. The movie is the product of a time when American filmmakers were challenging formulaic Hollywood narratives by playing with the very form of cinema. Rather than a regular biopic, Bonnie and Clyde is both skilled deconstruction and reconstruction of the glamour attached to crime, even when it includes murder.

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow led a gang of bank robbers during the Great Depression in America in the 1930s. They earned notoriety as well as grudging admiration for the manner in which they targeted financial establishments. These “public enemies”, as they were described by law enforcement agencies, were the forerunners of criminals who continue to inspire movies, true crime documentaries and series.

Penn’s movie stars Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the hold-up artists. Stifled by boredom, Bonnie runs away with Clyde. She becomes his enthusiastic partner in a series of increasingly daring heists. But a relationship that begins on a whim has its ups and downs.

In a departure from films of this type, Penn portrays Clyde as a less-than-macho felon. Highly conscious of their appearance and fond of posing for photographs, Bonnie and Clyde present a different picture when they are together, in the privacy of their bedroom.

Penn’s film has a staccato style, rapid editing, and an escapist quality. There’s a comic-book flavour to the bank raids. The leads are nervy types who live in the moment and make up the rules as they go along. Their end is as abrupt as the beginning of their romance.

The stylised portrayal of idealised thieves, meant to be consumed in the anti-establishment 1960s, retains its power to startle. The film’s canny understanding of the allure of screen violence is as timeless as its determination to shred the conventions of the biopic. Both these elements are present in the final shootout, in which Dede Allen memorably cuts to the rhythm of gunfire.

Bonnie and Clyde (1967).

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