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BURT HIRSCHFELD
based on the screenplay by David Newman & Robert Benton
Bonnie and Clyde


click to enlarge

Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1967
(first published by Lancer Books, New York, 1967)
price: 3/6; 160 pages


The blurb on the back:

They were the strangest damned gang you ever heard of. There was CW and his tattoo and Buck and his camera. There was Blanche who plugged her ears when te guns started popping off. And then there was Bonnie and Clyde. He was a sharecropper's son; she worked tables in a greasy spoon. Life hadn't given them much, so they took life in both hands. In an ecstatic orgy of violence they killed and tormented and raged...
All in the name of love.


opening lines:
The times were hard. The great depression lay across the land and suffering spread and many lives were shattered. Factories closed down. Businesses failed. Men were thrown out of work and despaired of ever finding jobs.


The 1967 movie of Bonnie and Clyde ('They're young! They're in love! They kill people!') is one of the great Hollywood landmarks, ushering in the golden era of intelligent, committed film-making that was ultimately killed by Spielberg. Its influence was immediate, far-reaching and unpredictable: it demonstrated that violence on screen could be both big and clever, its theme of the amoral, outlaw lovers led to further classics like Badlands and Natural Born Killers, and it adumbrated the Thirties revival that was to bring us the Art Deco stylisations of Biba a few years later.

Anyway, it's a classic, you know it's a classic, and you don't need the likes of me to tell you about the movie. What you need to know is: how does the novelization shape up? Damn well, is the answer to that. It's a good story and it's told with great economy and style. Here, by way of a minor example, is our first sight of CW, as played in the movie by Michael J Pollard:

He was small, made up of a succession of round protrusions. His bottom was round as if in counterweight to his thrust of chest; and his face was cherubic, pink and glowing. His eyes were circular and large, unblinking, and his nose was a red button. His mouth was a perfect bow. His dirty yellow hair was curly and thick and he had needed a haircut many months before. (p.29)

See what I mean? A nice little piece of writing, and one of the best film spin-offs you're likely to find, certainly on this site.


ARTISTIC MERIT: 3/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE:
4/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT:
5/5


Like this? Try this...

David Rome, The Cannibals
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