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Bonnie and ClydeBonnie and Clyde on DVD

Pistol Packing Mama - and her man

Arthur Penn's "high caliber" 1967 film is considered by many to be a masterpiece of American cinema. Recounting - and romanticizing - the tale of bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow and their gang, the movie has been transferred to the DVD medium with the attention to detail such a film deserves.

Warner Home Video has included both widescreen and pan-and-scan versions on opposite sides of the disc, which is as it should be. The remastered picture looks great and the Dolby Digital audio track is in the original mono - but directed to the center speaker so the sounds come out of the screen (which is also as it should be).

Starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in their breakout roles, Bonnie and Clyde starts out "clean" enough, but gets progressively bloody and vicious as the bank robbers get caught up in the web they weave.

The cast is outstanding. Not only are Beatty and Dunaway perfectly cast, the movie features wonderful performances by Gene Hackman and Estelle Parsons, Denver Pyle, Dub Taylor, and even Gene Wilder in a rare dramatic role.

There's also a nice mix of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs music to punctuate the action, mostly as "getaway music."

Bonnie and Clyde is a strange beast; it makes us cheer for what are basically a couple of amoral, murderous thugs. We laugh and cry with them despite the carnage they leave in their wake. We hope they get away from the police officers who are only trying to end Bonnie and Clyde's violent rampage and we're sorry when Bonnie, Clyde, and the others soak up the inevitable lead. "The Untouchables" it ain't...

Still, Bonnie and Clyde's a fine film and well worth viewing in its DVD incarnation.

"Extras" include the usual chapter stops, theatrical trailer, and there are some interesting production notes (though not many) and cast/crew bios. Liner notes are virtually non existent, unfortunately.

We really like Warners' use of Dolby Digital mono. Some monaural films are given a two channel Dolby Digital treatment, with no center channel signal, which gives you only a "ghost image" in the middle of your home theater. This means that, depending upon your room and A/V setup, sounds may not be localized at the screen, which can be disconcerting.

While a remastered, remixed stereo and/or surround soundtrack can sometimes be a nice enhancement, Warners has chosen to give us the original sound the way the director envisioned it.

It's kind of like "letterboxing," where a movie is released on video in the widescreen aspect ratio of its original theatrical incarnation. With letterboxing you lose the use of part of your TV screen (in this case the top and bottom) but you gain the enjoyment of the movie the way it was meant to be seen. Likewise, with the Dolby Digital mono soundtrack, you lose all but one of your audio channels, but gain the accurate reproduction of the movie, with sounds placed where they should be. Sure it's mono, but it still sounds good, and without any gadgets or gimmicks.

We hope to see more of this…

Bonnie and Clyde, from Warner Home Video
112 minutes, Widescreen (1.85:1)/Pan and Scan, Dolby Digital Mono
Starring Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Michael J. Pollard, Estelle Parsons
Produced by Warren Beatty, Written by David Newman Robert Benton
Directed by Arthur Penn


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Updated May 13, 2006