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Bonnie + Clyde DVD
Your August 2008 UMC Results Are In!

Preshow Entertainment: IMAGINATIONLAND (South Park)

Tagline: "The strangest damned gang you ever heard of. They're young. They're in love. They rob banks."

Some day they'll go down together;
They'll bury them side by side;
To few it'll be grief--
To the law a relief--
But it's death for Bonnie and Clyde.
-Bonnie Parker, 1934

Preshow Entertainment:

Replying "awesome" to your friend saying "seeya later" is not awesome. The Grand Canyon is awesome. The word "awesome" no longer means what it was intended to mean. That's also true of the word "genius," which gets thrown about when it really should be reserved. Years ago, if you said "genius," invariably one would think "Einstein." So when I say Matt Stone and Trey Parker are geniuses, let it be known that I mean that in the old school way, not in the "awesome" way.

About a month ago, in a hotel room in Florida, I heard what I believe to be the funniest line ever. Sure, it's quite possible you had to be there, but permit me to try and convey the moment to you. Not surprisingly, it was on South Park. I had no idea what the storyline was, as I tuned it in midway. All I knew was terrorists attacked Imaginationland, and there was a meeting of the Council of 9 to decide what to do. Around the table: Zeus, Glinda the Good Witch, Luke Skywalker, Aslan the lion from Narnia, Morpheus from "The Matrix," Jesus, Gandalf, Wonder Woman and Popeye. Everyone was chiming in on how to handle the situation. Some suggested fleeing, while Jesus and Luke wanted to fight. But then Popeye mumbled something Popeye-ish and Jesus said, "That may be, Popeye, but we don't have a choice." And that's the line that knocked me cold. . Not even the whole line. Just the first four words. Jesus saying, "That may be, Popeye..." was enough to make me confirm, once again, that Matt and Trey are geniuses. And so's Einstein.

Popeye fights Khan in Imaginationland
A three-parter from Season 11, IMAGINATIONLAND is a tightrope walk between clever-smart and clever-stupid, just what we'd expect from SP. On one hand, the idea of terrorists attacking our imagination and what our response is (including, but not limited to sending Kurt Russell through a portal to the save Imaginationland), and on the other hand, Cartman's relentless pursuit to get his balls licked by Kyle.

Imaginationland carnage
There's so much going on in this trilogy that, well, it's probably a lot easier for you to watch the episodes yourselves (on DVD or free online). But I'll just list a few cast members for now: Ronald McDonald (who's arm gets severed, and he doubles back to retrieve it), Mighty Mouse, Raggedy Ann, Gizmo, Count Chocula, Pacman, Dorothy, Dragonheart, Pinhead, Captain Hook...and probably a hundred more.

Gracefully lifting from movies like THE ABYSS, GLADIATOR and STARGATE, IMAGINATIONLAND manages to skew any cliche in its path from big to small (like Cartman gently rubbing his finger across a photo of Kyle). And the spot-on faux parodies of M. Night Shyamalan, Michael Bay and Mel Gibson are so funny, I just found myself saying "wow."

And Now, Our Feature Presentation:

Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) and Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway)
BONNIE AND CLYDE was more than a movie. It was a part of a movement. Part of a time when the country was swaying in the aftershocks of assassinations, Vietnam, and civil rights. The anti-hero was exciting, and with movies like EASY RIDER and BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID in 1969, America was identifying with the rebel. And firing one of the first shots was 1967's BONNIE AND CLYDE. It may not have been the first anti-hero movie, but it may be the best.

BONNIE AND CLYDE was directed by the fabulous Arthur Penn (who I was lucky enough to meet in an elevator) and written by Robert Benton (who I was lucky enough to meet in a book store) and David Newman (who I never met anywhere), with Beatty, Penn, and a huge assist...even on set...from Robert "China" Towne. A Reese's Peanut Butter Cup ("Hey, you got comedy on my action movie!") of a film, I sometimes think that if not for the good looks and murders, Don Knotts could have been in this movie. But it's partly the "violence meets lightheartedness" that makes the movie so prizewinning.

Featuring a cast that understood what acting means, BAC takes bank robbers-cum-murderers and makes them not just likable but sexy as all hell. Times were tough during the Great Depression, especially in a small town. So when Clyde Barrow comes to town, it takes no time for lonely waitress Bonnie Parker to hitch her wagon to him. The fact that Clyde was trying to steal Bonnie's mother's car, and then she went off with him moments later told us everything.

The Barrow Gang
Along the way, they pick up a few colorful people, and thus, The Barrow Gang is born. Character actor Michael J. Pollard is tag-a-long mechanic C.W. Moss. Gene Hackman and Estelle Parsons play Clyde's brother and sister-in-law. A ragtag team for sure, but they manage to get the job done. Also on board for a short yet very satisfying stay, Gene Wilder in his film debut.

Clyde (Warren Beatty)
But BONNIE AND CLYDE isn't all about bank robberies and bouncy antics. There's the human moments too. Clyde's inability to have sex with Bonnie, for one. I mean, not everyone can rob a bank, but who can't have sex with Faye Dunaway? Now I'm no Film Therapist, but I'd say it just may be a mite possible that this is where Clyde got a lot of his hostility from. He's an interesting man. Sure, he comes off as reckless and arrogant (they always get theirs, right?), but he's a smart guy too. Shortly after they met, he looked right into Bonnie's eyes and gave her a cold reading that rivals any psychic's.

Penn swaps out sex for violence throughout the film. The way she touches his gun for the first time. And when Clyde fails to perform in the bedroom, Bonnie lays her head on...his gun. The whole movie is one long sex act disguised as violence. In fact, the first shot is an extreme close-up on Bonnie's lips. The film then goes into flirt mode, moves into foreplay, gets giggly and intense, and has a great climax. No wonder it was rated M.

And speaking of climax, I watched the last scene over again in slo-mo the other day. Now this may sound a little over-geeky, but it's really a lesson in filmmaking that you can try at home. Watch the sequence unfold slowly. Watch how their faces change as they realize it's over. Watch how they look over at each other. It's more than thrilling; it's haunting.

Accused of being ultra-violent at the time (it does have a stunning and famous sequence), BONNIE AND CLYDE is rather tame by today's standards. I'm not even sure network TV would cut a frame. And due to knock-offs, homages and Tarantinoans, I fear the film may seem dusty to newer eyes. Could it be that Bonnie and Clyde have been replaced by Mickey and Mallory?

Bonnie (Faye Dunaway)
BONNIE AND CLYDE has sure left its mark on me. I remember the song on AM radio that sounded like a Rudy Vallee/megaphone tune. I also recall Barbara Feldon on a variety show singing a different song about Bonnie and Clyde while in a bubble bath. Hell, I even watched the movie TEENAGE BONNIE AND KLEPTO CLYDE (full disclosure: I really watched it to see Maureen Flannigan's tits, she was Evie on OUT OF THIS WORLD. Remember?) And the first film I sold, two of the main characters are watching BONNIE AND CLYDE on TV, commenting on it.

Arthur Penn is a rare bird in the Hollywood skies. An actor's director. Someone who cares about character over logline. I heard somewhere that whenever Penn reads a script and there's a scene where it's raining, he crosses out the rain. Weird, since right before they die, Bonnie and Clyde have their last scene together in a car...in the rain.

In 1967 TV was running Andys Griffith and Williams, and in the theaters, movies like CAMELOT and THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE were common fare. So imagine sitting in the theater (smoking section in the balcony) and seeing this squib-heavy mix of violence and frivolity. America was changing and I'd like to think that movies helped usher that change. At very least, they reflected it. You gotta give me that. Actually, you have to give BONNIE AND CLYDE that. Oh, and did I mention it also made stars out of Dunaway, Hackman and Wilder?


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