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16 September 2016

Blood, guts and, uh, bluegrass?

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty in "Bonnie and Clyde." (Courtesy: google.com)

I was honored to speak to a group in Dallas last week about movies shot in and around Dallas.

I always come away from The Movie Memories presentation "Lights, Camera, Dallas!" with the music from Bonnie and Clyde bouncing around in my head.  Arthur Penn's 1967 action-crime thriller showcased Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the notorious outlaw duo that terrorized North Texas and surrounding states in the early 1930s.

That was during the Great Depression, of course.  There's other music that pops up in this hard-hitting, blood-splattered yarn about perhaps this country's most notorious gangster (not gangsta, thank you) duo.  What never ceases to intrigue me, though, is the bouncy banjo pickin' from the bluegrass duo Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs during the car chase scenes.

That's right:  Bank alarms going off, shots fired and high-speed pursuit (for the 1930s at least) as Foggy Mountain Breakdown blasts from the speakers.

For those who've never seen this somewhat-based-on-truth tale of love, or at least lust amid the ruins of bank robberies and shootouts with the law, Penn's double Oscar winner (Estelle Parsons, best supporting actress as Blanche, cinematography) is about as raucous as raucous can be on a movie screen.

Some of you might remember that Flatt and Scruggs were also the bluegrass boys who provided, The Ballad of Jed Clampett,  the banjo-heavy theme song of the hit 1960s TV sitcom the Beverly Hillbillies.

That's what make's Penn's music choice daring if not downright nutty.

Two questions:  Am I the only one who thinks of the Beverly Hillbillies every time Bonnie and Clyde hit the gas and flee the law?  Should I feel guilty that I think of Jed Clampett and his puzzled look as that infamous bubblin' crude (oil) oozes from the ground and sends Jed and the gang to Beverly Hills?

Judge for yourself.  I'd love it if you'd report via the comment section below.

"Y'all come back now, ya' hear?"

Download Bonnie and Clyde - Bank Robbery


Hey there Larry! Interesting connection about the composers of the music. I've always felt the Foggy Mountain Breakdown to be a perfect fit for the film. Bonnie & Clyde works great setting up the initial bank robberies as fun and games with the jaunty bluegrass tune, which brings the audience in to their world. It's all the more shocking when the first kill is made a few minutes later during the next robbery.

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