Sunday, June 12, 2011

Preview: Lovers on the Run

Ah, young love. There are so many of those lovely and sometimes clumsy moments that lay the foundation for a budding relationship: a loss of what to say, unnecessary sweatiness, general anxiety... the first bank robbery, the first murder... wait, what?

Now, I'll be the first to admit we all do some pretty stupid things when we're young and lovestruck. Not listening to your loved ones who warn you about your new paramour? That's about par. But felonies? Back robberies? Unless you're reading this from a prison cell, it's safe to say neither you or I have indulged in such activities. Good thing we have the movies, so we can live vicariously through Hollywood criminals on the screen.

Bonnie and Clyde were notorious historical figures, and are the earliest of celebrity criminals in America. Their story was a fascinating one, and their exploits on the silver screen became a notorious and seminal film in modern history. Released in 1967 and directed by Arthur Penn, it is widely considered to be the first film of The New Hollywood era, which fearlessly broke down boundaries and challenged audiences in ways seldom seen before. Many scenes are reminiscent of crime films from the 1930s and 40s, but then escalate into orgies of graphic violence. And the finale is well... let's just say it's one of the great moments in the history of cinematic bloodshed.

Although visceral in its initial appeal, the film is actually incredibly well done. The editing and direction were groundbreaking, and the performances across the board are top notch. Not only are Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway devilishly charming, the supporting cast features many familiar faces early in their respective careers: Gene Hackman, Gene Wilder and character actor Michael J. Pollard.

The average moviegoer may not be familiar with the crime story They Live By Night, and that itself should be a criminal act. The debut feature for director Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without A Cause, In A Lonely Place, Johnny Guitar), it not only depicts lovers on the run, but was empathetic with the plights of these young outsiders. It's a rich and beautiful film that has influenced countless films in the decades since its release.

Even though They Live By Night was Ray's first film, he had complete creative control at RKO Pictures under the guidance of John Houseman (acclaimed actor, producer, and former collaborator with Orson Welles). The result is a film noir that is striking in its camera movement and cinematography. A true masterpiece.

Both of these films are both pioneers in their depiction of crime and the lives effected by it. And like a cascade of dominos, they directly influenced future stories of love gone bad and fugitive romance such as Badlands, True Romance and Natural Born Killers. Love may be a many splendored thing, but it also can also have quite the dark side. Cupid may have shot these love birds through the heart, but he had better take cover. For these kids may well shoot him back... in the face.

Oh, that young love. Kiss kiss. Bang bang.

Showtimes for the films:

Bonnie and Clyde
Thursday, Jun 16th
Friday, Jun 17th

They Live By Night
Thursday, Jun 16th
Friday, Jun 17th

Final Notes about the screening
Double Features:
"When two movies are grouped together under the same thematic heading, one ticket is good for both features when viewed back-to-back on the same day." (cha-ching!)

"Hassle-free downtown parking available for $6 at the One American Center for all summer films! Since you’re also supporting the theatre when you buy parking, they're giving you a free small soda each time you park there for a film. Buy online with your film tix and print out your confirmation e-mail or buy directly from the garage attendant (cash only). Attendant will have your soda ticket as well."

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