DVDs: Bonus Points Movies

New Life for 'Bonnie and Clyde'

By JEN CHANEY
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It's almost impossible to list the many movies that owe a debt to "Bonnie and Clyde." Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" does. Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers" unquestionably does. I would even argue that this stylish bank robber saga, nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in 1968, paved the way for violent films like "The Departed" and "No Country for Old Men" to steal Academy Awards of their own.

With the gunfire-fueled classic celebrating its 40th anniversary and capturing new attention courtesy of Mark Harris's book, "Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood," Warner Bros. could not have picked a better time to release a "Bonnie and Clyde" Ultimate Collector's Edition ($39.98, available today). Happily, that box set -- which comes with two DVDs, a photo book and a recreation of the original press kit, all dolled up with glossy packaging and striking images -- looks as sharp as one of Faye Dunaway's famously fashionable berets.

Virtually every member of the "Bonnie and Clyde" gang reemerges for the DVD's hour-long documentary, "Revolution! The Making of 'Bonnie and Clyde'": Producer and star Warren Beatty, Dunaway, Gene Hackman, director Arthur Penn, even Morgan Fairchild, who was Dunaway's double. All share candid stories about bringing this controversial take on the notorious Texas bank robbers to the big screen

Among other things, we learn that Beatty and Penn routinely argued, actor Michael J. Pollard consumed way too many hamburgers while filming one scene and co-screenwriter Robert Benton, so certain he would win the Oscar that year, stood up when the award was announced, only to realize the screenplay for "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" had triumphed instead. The documentary is easily the highlight of the collection, which also includes a 1994 A&E special on the real Bonnie and Clyde, Beatty's wardrobe tests and a pair of deleted scenes that must be watched with subtitles, as the audio was never recovered.

The film itself looks as spectacular as ever, though the experience would have been enhanced by a commentary track from some of the players who participated in the "Revolution!" doc. But the biggest surprise about "Bonnie and Clyde" is how relevant the movie feels more than four decades later. The smattering of bullets that closes the film -- or, as Benton describes it, "a masterpiece of a ballet of death" -- remains shockingly elegant. And the movie still makes us care about our two heroes, young, misguided lovers brazen enough to steal from the very Depression-era institutions that are ousting America's poor from their homes. In the story, as the famous poem says, it's death for Bonnie and Clyde. But for "Bonnie and Clyde" the movie -- which gets a DVD upgrade at a moment when the U.S. faces another economic downturn -- there is still plenty of life.

Best Bonus Point Trivia: Beatty earned his first Best Actor Oscar nomination for his turn as Clyde Barrow. But he originally envisioned someone else in the role: Bob Dylan.

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The Post's Curt Fields reviews the DVD of The History Channel doc "Life Before People," also on DVD today.

Media Mix serves up snappy takes on the latest DVDs, CDs and more.

Also Available This Week

A scary Stephen King novella becomes a scary Stephen King movie called "The Mist," out today. For more options, check out this full list of today's DVD debuts.

Coming Next Week

If Johnny Depp says he'll take a little off the top, he's really not kidding in "Sweeney Todd," comes to DVD next Tuesday. For a full calendar of what's coming in the weeks ahead, click here.

Recently Announced

Releases worth marking on the calendar:

  • Maybe it will make us less nauseous on DVD: The shaky camerawork of "Cloverfield" comes to DVD April 22.
  • Hilary Swank takes a stab at romantic comedy in "P.S. I Love You," tugging heartstrings starting May 6.
  • Heath Ledger is among the many actors who portray Bob Dylan in "I'm Not There," also on DVD May 6.
  • And one more for May 6: The recent ABC adaptation of "A Raisin in the Sun" takes a bow.
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PHOTOS: 'Bonnie and Clyde' -- Warner Bros./'The Mist' -- Dimension Films

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