I have a small, very manageable fascination with the history of organized crime in America between 1920 and 1960. Of course, this means I’ve devoured every film on the subject that I can get my grubby paws on, from the original Scarface (far superior to the Pacino version) to Gangster Squad (which is the worst depiction of Mickey Cohen ever put to screen).
Naturally, the original Bonnie and Clyde popped up on that watchlist. I have seen the film at midnight screenings in college, on my own, and even taught a class on it as part of a course on the mobster in cinema. The original? It’s pretty iconic. Weird at parts, and the history of queer erasure in the film makes me furious, but it’s a classic.
So what I fail to understand is why we need a new version of the story. There are so many other interesting stories about doomed love affairs set against the inherently violent criminal underworld, so why remake Bonnie and Clyde yet again? We’ve had the classic film, a miniseries, and an incredibly short-lived musical.
This version will come from Spanish director Kiké Maillo, with Chloë Grace Moretz and Jack O’Connell set to star. The film, currently titled Love Is a Gun, is set to be presented to potential financiers tomorrow at the American Film Market. The screenplay is based on Jeff Guinn’s Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde and written by Sheldon Turner of Up In The Air fame. The producers released this statement on the film:
“We are excited to reintroduce the iconic story of Bonnie and Clyde. Their story remains ubiquitous in popular culture across the globe, yet few in this generation know the details of their intimate love affair and the circumstances that led to their notorious crime spree that captured the imagination of the world in their time. Kike, Chloë and Jack are completely in sync about the character-driven approach we will be taking, and we feel lucky to have a creative team of this high caliber leading us forward.”
I really doubt that Bonnie and Clyde have faded so much from the public view when both the miniseries and musical debuted within the past eight years. The pair are infamous in pop culture; the most recent Halloween saw two teen characters dressing up as Bonnie and Clyde. The 1967 film is considered to be an excellent example of the shift in American cinema that occurred around the sixties, and is frequently taught in cinema courses. This isn’t a rare story, but one that is American myth.
As I said above, there are plenty of other stories about famed American criminals that could be explored. You want a doomed love affair? Try actually doing a decent adaptation of the love story between Ben Siegel and Virginia Hill, depicted in the film Bugsy (which is a terrible, inaccurate depiction of the Los Angeles crime syndicates in the 1940s but that is neither here nor there).
Siegel was a mobster who dreamed of being a movie star, as one biographer put it, and Hill was a femme fatale personified. Hill barely escaped being killed when Siegel’s dream of opening a luxury casino in a little town called Las Vegas ended in his bloody death; the tragedy is that Vegas wound up becoming the city we know it today partially in part due to Siegel’s vision. Few people know that story, so why not tackle that?
We don’t need another Bonnie and Clyde reboot. We need something that audiences haven’t heard before, or really anything that isn’t just the same star-crossed lovers robbing banks and living life on the wild side. There are more stories in history to tell that audiences might be interested in hearing that they have not heard before. We don’t need this film, or any other Bonnie and Clyde adaptation in any medium, because we deserve a fresher tale.
(via Variety; Image: Warner Bros)
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