Bonnie and Clyde

  • Review Date: January 4, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1967
  • Running Time: 111 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Trendsetting outlaw drama is violent, complex.
  • Review Date: January 4, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1967
  • Running Time: 111 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Plenty of glorification of the outlaw lifestyle here. The titular criminals are played by two good-looking actors who create characters that are a lot more sympathetic (and sexy) than the lawmen in pursuit of them, many of whom they kill. Two supporting characters sadly contrast their criminal lives with their religious upbringings (it may say something that these two are the weak links who will bring down the gang).

Violence

Considerable shooting, as well as pistol-whipping and reckless driving. Once this movie was considered the utmost in graphic carnage -- though far bloodier movies have come along since. Nonetheless, we are shown blood-reddened bullet wounds (a rare thing in those days) and an infamous climax with a lethal hailstorm of ammunition.

Sex

Bonnie is dressed only in panties in her introductory sequence, though camera angles and editing obscure her breasts. Bonnie and Clyde's unsatisfying sex life is a reoccurring theme; she's sexually hotwired, perhaps a nymphomaniac, and Clyde is possibly homosexual, but the script wraps these diagnoses up in euphemisms and evasive dialogue (Clyde saying he's "no lover boy").

Language

Pretty mild under the circumstances, with "hell" uttered a few times.

Consumerism

Mention of store names, products with mostly a 1930s vibe.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Lots of smoking. Some drinking and talk of drunkenness.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this was one of the first movies to get the newly minted R-rating. There are lots of shootouts and a violent finale in a hailstorm of bullets that was compared by commentators to the Vietnam War (yes it was) for graphic bloodshed -- though far gorier movies have since arrived to "entertain." There is a glorification of the anti-social outlaw lifestyle (but an awareness of how criminals manufacture such myths themselves, for the positive PR), and the main characters smoke and drink. Bonnie is sexually frustrated (discretely topless in her opening scene) with Clyde, who seems to have intimacy-impotence problems (in the original script he was gay, or at least bisexual). Their bedroom dysfunction is a recurring theme, though it's coached in tasteful euphemism.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

The straight-ahead narrative isn't a very accurate portrayal of the true criminal rampages of Depression-era robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, but, then again, the way outlaws manufacture their own romantic myths is part of the theme. The story starts on the day a bored (and topless) young Texas waitress Bonnie (Faye Dunaway) first spies Clyde (Warren Beatty) trying to steal her mom's car. She craves excitement, and he's a charming petty crook and promises an escape. Clyde decides to do bank jobs when he (correctly) realizes that due to the Depression many folks are facing foreclosure and will view bank bandits as heroes. Bonnie -- besides learning to shoot and take an active hand in the crimes -- publishes poetry and photos in the newspapers about their exploits (this bizarre detail is quite true). They form a small criminal gang with Clyde's brother (Gene Hackman) and a few others, but eventually authorities catch up with them.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

When BONNIE AND CLYDE first premiered, many condemned it as vile, gory, and positively toxic. One reviewer wrote a scathing negative review -- then reconsidered, then ran another review retracting his original opinion and giving the movie big thumbs-up. Clearly this was a film like Natural Born Killers, that divided opinion leaders in its era, but it wound up being a hit with audiences and film historians. Today families can watch it uncut in their own living room -- something that might have horrified folks in 1967. Some violence is still shocking (especially the gruesome ending), but much bloodier movies have come out of Hollywood since.

Old-school Hollywood censorship used to dictate that lawbreakers were always punished in the end. While that certainly holds true here, Bonnie and Clyde subverted the studio code by making the killer couple especially appealing and likeable protagonists, more so than the police who pursue them. The movie doesn't go out of its way to condemn the bank robbers and their deeds, which seems in some ways a natural reaction to the grim economic conditions of dust-bowl America (though at one point Clyde discovers a bank he wants to rob has gone broke too). This "anti-establishment" notion struck a chord with the 1960s Vietnam War-era audiences, who had their own reasons for learning to mistrust the government, military, and police.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the historical facts of Bonnie and Clyde compared with this movie, and the hero-worship legends built about their gang (and other outlaws, in fact, such as John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd, whose bios were partially filched for this script). Do you think this movie glorifies robbery? Could it have ended peacefully? Do you think this film comments negatively on hero-worship of criminals, or was it part of the problem? What about the constantly under-indictment rappers of today, and their idolization of the likes of Al Capone and Scarface?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 13, 1967
DVD release date:March 24, 2008
Cast:Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Warren Beatty
Director:Arthur Penn
Studio:Warner Home Video
Genre:Classic
Run time:111 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence

This review of Bonnie and Clyde was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Parent of a 16 year old Written byTsion June 19, 2012
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

Older Teens and Adults

Bonnie & Clyde is a magnificent achievement in American film, signaling the start of the "New Hollywood" age of the 1970s that brought classics like Chinatown, The French Connection, and The Godfather. People interested in viewing this film should know that it is really a movie for adults. Its large messages about society and violence, as well as its wit and frequent satirical humor, will fly over any kids' heads. That said, its inappropriate content isn't as graphic or restrictive as most PG-13 movies today. Sex is minor. Bonnie awakens topless at the film's start, but nothing aside from her bare back is seen and the scene itself is nonsexual in nature. She frequently tries to have sex with Clyde, but he refuses, due to probable impotence or possible homosexuality (the film never elaborates). One suggestive scene shows intense (clothed) foreplay between the two before he cuts it off. They do eventually have sex before the movie's end, but it is entirely off screen (we don't even see them kiss). Language is mild as well, with many "d**n"s, "h**l"s, and "b**ch"s but no "f" words. The movie's violence was shocking when it was released, but is less so today. Many people are shot with accompanying blood. The first person shot in the movie is shot point blank in the face, and we briefly see accompanying blood splatter. The two heroes are relentlessly shot by police officers, who riddle them with blood and bullets even after it's clear that they're dead. Despite the blood, little else is shown. Many shootings don't show any blood at all. Some kids might think that the movie praises Bonnie and Clyde's actions, if they are unable to glimpse the larger messages of the film. 16 is a good age for this one. The content is age appropriate, and kids will be able to appreciate the film itself.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Parent of a 6 year old Written byLB2010 June 17, 2010
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

A classic - OK for teens

I love this movie but no way I would want my kid to watch it until she's a teenager. I think it *does* romanticize the gangster world. Bonnie and Clyde would have been called terrorists today. But here the movie shows them as lovable and kind of adorable. You watch this movie, and you want them to win. The ending is quite heartbreaking. Then you read the facts of what they really did - it was far more horrifying in real life than in the movie. The imagery of that ending will stay with you for the rest of your life, it is so intense, so very horrifying. I watched this movie as a teenager, and the ending haunted me for a long time.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

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