The Dueling Divas Blogathon: Female Rivalry in Bonnie & Clyde (1967)

Faye Dunaway Bonnie & ClydeEstelle Parsons Bonnie & Clyde

Today, I’m happy to participate to the 4th annual Dueling Divas Blogathon hosted by Lara Gabrielle Fowler from Backlots. As a topic, I chose Bonnie & Clyde directed by Arthur Penn in 1967. This is simply one of my very favourite movies or, more precisely, my favourite movie of the 60’s.

We all know the story of Bonnie & Clyde, those two American outlaws who were robbing banks during the Great Depression (1932-1934 more precisely). Their activities took place in the South-West of the States. These gangsters were well-known for their ways to escape the police. Having rob many banks and killed some people (mainly policemen), they were the most wanted American outlaws of the time. But on May 23rd, 1934, they died in an ambush strained by the police in Louisiana. We have to know that, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were not alone. They were actually part of The Barrow Gang including themselves, Buck Barrow (Clyde’s brother), Blanche Barrow (Buck’s wife) and also some friends: W.D Jones, Henry Methuen (whose father helped the texas lawmen Frank Hamer to plan Bonnie and Clyde’s death), Raymond Hamilton, Joe Palmer, Ralph Fults and Margie “Maggie” Hamilton. In the movie, the members of the Barrow gang are a bit different: Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway), Clyde (Warren Beatty), Buck (Gene Hackman) and Blanche Barrow (Estelle Parsons) but also a certain C.W Moss (Michael J. Pollard), a fictional character who is actually a combination of both W.D Jones and Henry Methvin (it’s his father, in the film, who helps Frank Hamer to plan Bonnie and Clyde’s death. At this point of the film, Buck Barrow is already dead and Blanche is in the prison’s hospital because she became blind).

Barrow Gang Bonnie & Clyde

Well, that was just an introduction to understand better the story of Bonnie & Clyde. But let’s focus on our Dueling Divas Blogathon. As I mentioned, in the movie, two women are part of the Barrow Gang: Bonnie Parker (played perfectly by Faye Dunaway) and Blanche Barrow (played very well too by Estelle Parson who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar Actress). But there is a big rivalry between those two girls! Of course, the details in real life and the details in the film probably change, but we’ll focus on the film as this is a blogathon about cinema. We’ll try to understand this rivalry and see why they can’t stand each other.

First, we have to know that Bonnie and Blanche get involved in the robberies and are members of the Barrow gang for different reasons. Bonnie is a waitress who hates her job and, when she meets Clyde, it’s the occasion for her start a more “interesting” life. So, she decides to go with him and they start to rob banks. All that matter for Bonnie is to stay with Clyde because she loves him, and for that, she is ready to commit crimes. We also remember that it’s Bonnie who pushes Clyde to do the first hold-up and it’s her own decision to stay with Clyde. After he kills a man, Clyde wants to send Bonnie home so she won’t be in danger, but she refuses. Blanche Barrow is the daughter of a pastor who married another outlaw, Buck Barrow. She becomes a member of the Barrow gang because it seems that she can’t leave her husband, but she really doesn’t like to be part of it and, from the minute she appears on screen, we see she is really not comfortable with all this business. When they first meet, we immediately notice that the two girls won’t stand each other. They are, first, polite, but we can see Blanche doesn’t like Bonnie’s personality and Bonnie doesn’t like Blanche’s princess’s manners and behaviour. This one is always complaining. When Clyde wants to take a picture of her with Buck, she blubbers because she doesn’t want to. Bonnie looks at her in a very serious way and seems to think “Oh my, she’s going to spoil everything.” On the other hand, at this point of the film, it’s still hard to say what the relation between Bonnie and Blanche will become. Will they get along with each other? Will they politely dislike each other like they do in this scene? Or will they furiously express out loud their feeling of hate?

DunawayAsBonniePromo Estelle Parsons and Gene Hackman Bonnie & CLyde

Not a long time after they meet, Bonnie, Blanche, Clyde, Buck, and C.W are moving to Missouri in two separate cars. At first, we see Buck and Clyde in one car. They are having fun and Buck tells a joke to Clyde. Then, we see Bonnie and Blanche in the other car. They are quiet, not speaking to each other. Bonnie drives with an unhappy expression on her face and Blanche is looking at the window, turning her back to Bonnie. Blanche makes a forced smile and it seems that she tries to say something, but she doesn’t. The chemistry between the two girls is not very good. Then, when they arrived at their new home, Blanche visits it. She is very enthusiast and keeps saying with her annoying voice “Oh, this is beautiful!” and other things like that. Bonnie can’t stand the noise she and her other fellows make, so she goes back to her room. She is soon joined by Clyde and she makes a not very flattering imitation of Blanche. Clyde stops her because he doesn’t want Blanche to hear her. Then, we understand one first reason why Bonnie doesn’t like Blanche or, may I say, Blanche presence. She wishes to be alone with Clyde and the coming of the others, especially the noisy Blanche, disturbs their peace.

EP-estelleparsons-bonnieclyde-ridin

Unfortunately, the Barrow gang doesn’t stay very long in this house because they have to escape from a police raid. When Clyde says to the others that there are policemen outside, Blanche starts to panic and stars to scream and the gunshots start. Many policemen are killed by the Barrow gang who manages to escape. In the car, Blanche is not there. She is running on the grass and screams. They approach with the car so she can come in. Inside the car, everybody panics and then, Bonnie, unable to contain her rage, explodes and say to Blanche: ” You almost get us killed!” and then, Blanche answers: “What did I do wrong?! I thought you’d be happy I get killed?” The argument continues between the two ladies when Bonnie answers: “Yes, it would have saved us a lot of troubles!” Blanche asks for Buck to take her defense and wants to stop all this, but he explains to her that she can’t because they are all involved in those crimes. Bonnie wants her to “shut up” and Clyde gets mad at her. Anyway, this is quite a moment of panic for all the members of the Barrow gang. In a way, this is an understandable situation because they almost get killed. And Bonnie probably didn’t really mean what she said to Blanche. We also notice that Blanche never really says things directly against Bonnie. She annoys her, but kind of unintentionally and then, Bonnie reacts. Then, Bonnie and Clyde get out of the car. They have an argument about Blanche, but  Bonnie calms down and explains she was just frightened by the gunshots. So, this confirms the fact that she didn’t really mean what she said to Blanche. After that, everything is more peaceful in the car. Blanche and Bonnie don’t talk to each other, but at least they aren’t fighting.

After she robs a bank, the Barrow gang stops in an area to split the money. Blanche is jealous of Bonnie because this one gets her share of money and she doesn’t. So she asks Buck to say to Clyde that she wants her share of money too. Bonnie doesn’t understand the purpose, but she doesn’t say more. This time, it’s Blanche who says what she thinks of Bonnie. She accuses her of always being sarcastic. Bonnie doesn’t reply to that. Does it mean she agrees with Blanche? Maybe she has some regrets. She simply explains to Clyde that she could have given this money to her poor mother, but the discussion stops here and it doesn’t turn into a big fight like in the previous scene.

When they catch this couple from whom they steal the car, it’s the first time Blanche seems to have fun with the gang. They are making jokes and she laughs. She seems, for once, to forget Bonnie’s arrogance and seems to accept being part of the gang. In the next scene, Bonnie escapes because she wants to go back to go see her mother. So, the Barrow Gang looks for her and Blanche also helps them to find Bonnie. Thus, we understand that she must care for her a little, otherwise, she wouldn’t be screaming all around “Bonnie! Bonnie!” to find her. Bonnie and Blanche will still have some little arguments in the rest of the film, but never big ones. They just annoy each other without really meaning what they are saying, just like two sisters.

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Later in the movie, the Barrow Gang still has to escape from a police raid, but during the night. This time, things don’t end well: Buck gets shot in the head and Blanche’s eyes are hurt. She prays the Lord to save them from this situation and asks Bonnie to call a doctor. Bonnie stays calm and explains to Blanche that they can’t move Buck. Instead of being mad at her, she comforts her. This is really one of the saddest scenes of the film. At this point, Bonnie understands that Blanche is part of her gang and she has to take care of her instead of hating her, especially because she is just about to lose her husband.

The next morning, the police surprise them again. Buck dies and Blanche is arrested. The Barrow gang is now in a really bad shape and decides to stay at C.W Moss’s father’s place. Frank Hammer visits Blanche to the prison hospital because he wants to know the name of this unknown member of the gang (C.W Moss). She reveals his name and then, Frank meets C.W’s father and, together, they plan Bonnie and Clyde’s death. But can we say that Blanche has betrayed the gang? I don’t think so. First, she is blind and didn’t notice a policeman was talking to her and then, she seems to be very desperate and doesn’t know what to do. In my opinion, the real betrayer here is C.W’s Moss father.

Not a long time before they get killed by the police, Bonnie and Clyde are having a discussion together. Bonnie says to Clyde she wishes they can stop all this and start a new life, clean, and not pursued by the police anymore. Unfortunately, Clyde doesn’t understand Bonnie’s message. Here, Bonnie thinks the same way as Blanche. She understands that this is not a good way of life. However, Blanche has understood that at the beginning and Bonnie understands it at the end, when it’s too late. Bonnie doesn’t make allusion to Blanche in this scene, but she probably thought about her before she explained that to Clyde. They are killed not a long time after.

So, this rivalry between Blanche Barrow and Bonnie Parker is kind of ambiguous. In my opinion, they don’t really hate each other, they just have some difficulties to get along. As I said previously, they are like two sisters. They pretend not to like each other, but they are part of the same group and can accept to be patient with each other. In hard times, they are here to support each other. Of course, it never is the big love between the two women, but maybe if they would have met in different circumstance, more normal circumstance, they would have got along better. One thing is sure, they are very different, and each one has their flaws and qualities. In a way, they kind of complete each other…

Estelle ParsonsFaye Dunaway

If you wish to read more topics written by other blogs for the blogathon and also know more about the event itself, please click on this link :

http://backlots.net/2015/01/31/the-dueling-divas-entries-2/

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Event Announcement: The First Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon

Buster Keaton blogathon

The Wonderful World of Cinema is proud to participate to The First Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon organized by Silent-Ology! The event will take place on February 8 & 9, 2015. Each participant has to choose a topic related to this silent film star. It can be a film, a moment in his career, the actors who worked with him, etc. For the occasion, I decided to talk about Free & Easy directed by Edward Sedgwick and released in 1930. It stars Buster Keaton (in his first talking picture), Anita Page, Robert Montgomery and more!

Free & Easy is a very underrated Buster Keaton’s film and also not his most well-known one. However, it’s a movie that I love and that I have seen so many times. This blogathon will be the occasion for me to make people curious to see it!

Free and Easy

If you wish to participate to the blogathon, please click on this link for more information:

https://silentology.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/announcement-the-first-annual-buster-keaton-blogathon/#more-1395

February will be a busy month with Buster Keaton’s Blogathon, 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon and The Dolores Hart’s Films Marathon! I’m so excited about all that! Hope I’ll have many readers! 🙂

Buster Keaton

Donna Reed: What a Star!

Donna Reed

Today, on January 27, we celebrate the 94th anniversary of the late Donna Reed. Even if I have only seen three of her films (It’s a Wonderful Life, From Here to Eternity and Eyes in the Night), Donna Reed is one of my very favourite actresses. Well, for those who have seen my top 10, she is at the ninth position.

Like many people, I’m sure, I first discovered Donna Reed in the marvelous movie It’s A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946), a Christmas Classic that the American Film Institute considers to be the most heartwarming movie of all times. It’s true that it is a beautiful feel-good movie, a very human one, just like many Frank Capra’s films are. In this gem, Donna Reed plays the role of Mary Hatch, a young girl who falls in love with George Bailey, the protagonist of the film. They get married and Mary becomes a caring wife, always helpful when her husband has troubles. It’s a Wonderful Life was not Donna Reed’s first film, but it’s this movie that puts her on the path of glory. Mary Hatch, the character played by Donna Reed, is a sweet, funny and gentle girl, the kind of character that everybody loves. And Donna Reed performed this role with a great sensibility. What I also love about Donna Reed in this film, is that she seemed to have a very good chemistry with the leading actor, James Stewart. Some scenes show that perfectly: the dance at the gym, the lasso’s moon scene, the phone scene,  the wedding night scene, the ending and more.

Donna Reed and James Stewart, It's a Wonderful Liife

In From Here to Eternity (Fred Zinnemann, 1953), Donna Reed plays the role of Alma “Lorene” Burke, an escort who falls in love with a soldier (Montgomery Clift) in Pearl Harbor (Hawaii), but also a woman who deeply wants to live a better life. This war movie won eight Oscars, including Best Supporting Actress. Of course, Donna Reed won this one! This was a very well-deserved award because it was a truly fantastic performance. You can see many subtleties in Donna’s acting and that’s what makes this performance so great. For example, I just love her tone of voice when she says to Montgomery Clift: “You’re a funny one!” This performance also shows us that Donna Reed was a very versatile actress, which always is a good privilege. That year, her co-star Frank Sinatra also won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Donna Reed and Montgomery Clift, From Here to EternityDonna Reed and Frank Sinatra Oscar

The last Donna Reed’s film I saw (today) was Eyes in the Night, also directed by Fred Zinnemann. In this 1942’s film also starring Ann Harding and Edward Arnold, Donna doesn’t have a big part but we notice her. She plays the role of Barbara Lawry, a 17 years old girl having a romance with Paul Gerente, the leading man of a theater play where she also works. But this man is the last husband of her stepmother. This one tries to stop her step-daughter because she believes this is not good for her. But one night, the man is killed and Lawry discovers the dead body. She first accuses her stepmother, Norma, but Norma’s uncle will help his niece and try to find out who is the murderer. That was another very different role for Donna Reed. She played brilliantly a very insolent teenage girl, but someone who, fortunately, still has a heart when she discovers that her stepmother didn’t kill Paul. This movie was made before It’s a Wonderful Life, where she played her first leading role

Eyes in the Night

Of course, I may have seen only three of her movies, but let’s not forget The Donna Reed Show. This was Donna at her best. I discovered it not a very long time ago, but I watched several episodes and I can say, without hesitation, that this is one of my very favourite TV shows. And Donna has much to do with it! This is a sitcom telling the story of the Stone Family: the mother, Donna Stone, is played by Donna Reed; the father, Alex Stone, is played by Carl Betz; the daughter, Mary Stone, is played by Shelley Fabares and the son, Jeff Stone, is played by Paul Petersen. Here, Donna Reed plays the perfect mother. You know, the mother everybody would love to have: sweet, funny, gentle, comprehensible, calm, etc. This TV show was kind of Donna Reed’s come-back, because she didn’t really make any memorable pictures after From Here to Eternity. Donna Reed will, obviously, always be remembered as Mary Hatch, Lorene Burke, and Donna Stone. The Donna Reed Show lasted for a total of eight seasons and, in 1963, Donna won a Golden Globe for Best TV-Star Female.

The Donna Reed Show

So, as you can see, you don’t need to see much to admire the great Donna Reed. Of course, I would love to see more of her films. Fortunately, I found some of them on YouTube. So the next ones I’ll watch are They Were Expendable, They Rode West and The Last Time I saw Paris. And, of course, I plan to see much more episodes of The Donna Reed Show! Donna Reed was a wonderful actress, but also a wonderful person. During the Vietnam War, she became a peace activist and co-chaired Another Mother For Peace, an advocacy group with this slogan: ” War is not healthy for children and other living things.” Donna Reed, unfortunately, left us too soon at the age of 64. There will always be a place for her in my heart. Happy birthday beautiful!

Donna Reed

A Golden Film on Big Screen: The Gold Rush (Chaplin, 1925)

The Gold Rush

Yesterday, I had the chance to see The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925) on big screen at The Cinémathèque Québécoise which is a movie institution based in Montreal where I live. I had seen The Gold Rush many times before, but seeing it on big screen was a completely new experience to me. Also, the version I saw many times before on DVD was the 1942’s version with narration and music composed by Chaplin himself. This time, it was the original 1925’s silent version. The completed original version was lost, so what we call the “original version” today is a restoration of the film based on what they could find of this original version. The two versions are not that much different, but there are some variations. For example, the 1925’s version is a little longer and the ending is a little different too.

The Gold Rush

The Gold Rush tells the story of The Lone Prospector (Charlie Chaplin) who, just like many men in 1896, is looking for the fortune by participating to The Gold Rush that took place in the Klondike. The movie starts with a presentation of this historical event. We see images of the gold miners braving the cold weather in search of the gold they may actually never find. These images are presented to us in a very dramatic way, but they don’t last long as the character of The Lone Prospector is presented to us immediately after. Of course, this is the Charlot we all know: with his cane, his derby hat and his little moustache! There, the atmosphere changes and becomes funny as we expected it. Then, the character of Big Jim (Mack Swain) is presented to us. This gold miner has found a mountain of gold and is very happy. Everything seems to be alright for The Lone Prospector and Big Jim, but when a violent snowstorm begins, the two characters have to find a shelter. It’s in the cabin of Black Larsen that The Lone Prospector and Big Jim meet each other. They also meet Black Larsen, the cabin’s owner. This man, who is, in fact, a dangerous criminal, is not very friendly with Big Jim and The Lone Prospector, but they insist to stay.

The three men are starving because they have nothing to eat. So, they decide to play a card game and the loser will have to brave the snowstorm and go search some food. Black Larsen loses. He goes, but, on his way, he kills two lawmen and, selfish as he is, he steals their food and never comes back to the cabin. However, all this doesn’t end in a good way for Black Larsen. Alone in the cabin, The Lone Prospector and Big Jim understand that Black Larsen will probably never come back. For Thanksgiving dinner, The Lone Prospector cooks what he can: his own shoe. He doesn’t think it tastes so bad, but Big Jim is kind of devastated. As he is still hungry, Big Jim starts to have hallucinations and sees his friend as a chicken. Because of that, he tries to kill him. Luckily, a big bear enters in the cabin and The Lone Prospector kills him. They now have real food and everybody is safe.

After this adventure, The Lone Prospector and Big Jim take each their own direction. The Lone Prospector goes to a little city of the north. There, he meets the beautiful Georgia in a saloon and falls in love with her. However, he has a rival and notices that being in love with the beautiful Georgia is not easy and that it can bring its share of disappointments. For Big Jim, things are difficult because he has lost his memory before having been attacked by Black Larsen. He can’t remember where his mountain of gold is and he has to find his friend, The Lone Prospector, so he can help him.  I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil everything and reveals the ending for those who haven’t seen this movie yet.

the-gold-rush-1

The Gold Rush is the kind of movie that everybody enjoys. Yes, it’s an old film, but it’s also a timeless classic. There are many reasons why I love it. Of course, one of them is the pure genius of Chaplin. Chaplin’s films are just so brilliant and that’s why people enjoy them so much. Some scenes are so incredible, like the one where the cabin is about to fall off the mountain. It’s sometimes hard to understand that it was made in 1925. I mean, how did they do that?! I also love the fact that, yes it’s a comedy, but there is also a dramatic side that brings a lot of humanity in this film. Talking about comedy, the gags in this film are so well-thought. How can you forget the famous Oceana Roll’s dance? This dance with little breads! This is simply one of the most famous scenes in cinema history.

Another thing I love about this film is the character of The Lone Prospector played so well by Charlie Chaplin. He is the comic pillar of this film, or simply the emotional pillar. He is the sources of all our laughs and tears. As always, Chaplin knew perfectly how to make his character captivating. What I find amusing about Charlot’s Character is when he tries to be the tough guy but he is not really credible. I also love the moments when he is with Georgia. He is so shy and so adorable at the same time. What I also love about this character (and about Chaplin) is the fact that he is very creative: a boot becomes a meal, a leash becomes a belt, etc. I also love the fact that he does everything to impress Georgia. This dinner he organizes for New Year’s Eve looks so simple, but it’s this simplicity that makes it beautiful and we can see that all this comes from the heart. Unfortunately, this New Year’s Eve’s dinner never really happen and that’s one of the sad moments of the film. Anyway, Charlie Chaplin created his character with an impressive tact. Let’s not forget that he not only played the main character but also directed and wrote the film! And he did all this with brilliance!

The Gold Rush

The Gold Rush is, for sure, an amazing film and I think it’s a classic everybody should see, just like some other Chaplin’s films like The Kid, City Lights, Modern Times, The Great Dictator, etc. I enjoyed a lot seeing it on big screen. The sound was very good and the ambiance in the movie theater was pleasant. The place was full and I could see these people were all Chaplin’s lovers or people who were curious to see his films. There was a man sat next to me who was laughing during ALL the film. I was afraid for him that he hiccups! Anyway, seeing classic films on big screen is always a delight and this will certainly not be the last time for me!

The Gold Rush

Coming Soon: Dolores Hart Films Marathon

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I have almost finished my William Holden films marathon (only 5 more to watch), so next week (probably in the middle of it), I’ll start a third marathon! I chose Dolores Hart because I haven’t seen any of her movies, but I’ve heard a lot about her and she seems to be a very interesting actress. Dolores Hart ended her acting’s career in 1963 when she was 24. She decided to become a nun and she is now Prioress of the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis in Connecticut. However, she is still active in the world of cinema by being a member of The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science (AMPAS). So, she is an Oscar-voting member.

For my marathon, I chose seven Dolores Hart’s films:

1- Loving You

2- Lonelyhearts

3-  King Creole

4- Where the Boys Are

5- Francis of Assisi

6- The Inspector, A.K.A Lisa

7- Come Fly With Me

Can’t wait to start this marathon! 🙂

Dolores Hart