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Wednesday, 31 August 2016


That was an engaging and beautifully put together essay.

Thank you Mike for an intelligent, interesting and well researched article. If only contemporary news sites could match this level of factual reporting....

I totally agree, and second, Charles opinion.

Well done, writer.

You're at your best with items like this.

I wonder what kind of camera they used?

Coincidentally, today my car's shuffle play served up Georgie Fame's Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde.


But did Clyde really write that letter to Henry Ford?

"Burnett Guffey, DP [director of photography] of Bonnie and Clyde, won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. This was the last time the award was won with a non-reflex/rackover camera. "

John Alcott won the oscar for cinematography in 1976 shooting Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon using a Mitchell BNC camera.


Long ago in the 80's, I worked with an old fellow who had been an AP reporter somewhere in Missouri. He recalled the day that the pictures of couples' dead bodies came in over the wire.

He said one picture was particularly disturbing. It showed a woman, who, in his words, "looked like a witch." She was standing by Bonnie's body and staring at the camera while clutching a clump of Bonnie's hair in her hand.

He said that he could never forget the look on the woman's face.

Burnett Guffey used the nonreflex Mitchell BNC for principal photography on Bonnie and Clyde.

While John Alcott used a variety of cameras on Barry Lyndon, per the IMDB.
Arriflex 35 BL, Cooke Speed Panchro, Zeiss and Angenieux Lenses
Mitchell BNC, Canon K35, Zeiss and Angenieux Lenses
Arriflex 35-IIC, Cooke Speed Panchro Lenses

So I don't think it would be fair to say that John Alcott was the last to win an Academy Award using a BNC. YMMV.

At about 3:22 to 4:00 in the video, Allen Daviau talks about using new technology to make the film appear old. I worked on commercials with Mr Daviau during the 1970s. An excellent DP, who was nominated five times, but never won an Academy Award.

I saw the Bonnie and Clyde death car in the late 1970s in the bordertown of Jean, Nevada, where a schoolmate of mine from Los Angeles, Pete Simon, having bought it at auction, had put it on display behind a velvet rope at his family's casino, Pop's Oasis. Pete gave me a personal tour when I passed through one evening and didn't even charge me the customary $1 admission. I saw the bloody map that had lain on Bonnie's lap during the ambush, as well as some grimly fascinating morgue photos. I do wish I had been taking photos myself in those days....

I saw the film when it came out in 1967 and remember that the death scene made me physically ill. I had never seen violence that graphic previously, and do not seek it out to this day.

Thanks Mike- you manage to keep the surprises coming, don't you?

As it happens, SBS ran the American Experience doco here in Oz last week. Definitely worth seeing. Played it very straight, giving the facts behind the hysteria and the politics, and putting the story squarely in its Depression-era context.

I think the most engaging part was the extensive use of the images that B & C took of themselves, as a way of letting them tell their own side of the story. Their affection for each other is very evident in these images, which only adds to the tragedy of the tale.

Terry Gross's interview with Arthur Penn is worth a listen for his explanation of how they constructed that final scene.


An excellent book about the entire crime scene of the 20s and 30s, including Bonnie and Clyde is Bryan Burrough's Public Enemies. It was made into a movie, but focused almost entirely on Dillinger, leaving out most of the rest of the book:




Clyde may or may not have written that letter. But it makes a heck of a story!

I grew up in the backwoods of Bienville Parish, Louisiana, near the location of the Bonnie and Clyde ambush site. Many of the older folks in the area when I was growing up had been around at the time of the incident. It's not hard to understand how the Bonnie and Clyde myth grew. As a kid, I remember overhearing many conversations from the older folks about how the ambush was a cowardly act by law enforcement. With constant retelling, the outlaw becomes the hero and, eventually, a marketing tool. There is a monthly flea market in Arcadia, Louisiana, called "Bonnie and Clyde Trade Days" capitalizing on the incident and a Bonnie and Clyde Museum in Gibland, Louisiana, with displays of weapons, a replica of the death car and other items associated with the pair.

The characters in "Natural Born Killers" were probably closer to how B&C were than what was portrayed in the Hollywood version of B&C.

What's in us that finds white trash sociopaths so alluring?

I find it interesting that the degree to which some famous people valued photography greatly impacted their legacies. The Kennedy family was documented very well photographically, even during JFK's childhood. This record has provided an endless stream of legacy-building imagery that certainly helped build his status.

The same can be said of Muhammad Ali, whos close friend Howard Bingham was his personal photographer. Bingham traveled everywhere with Ali and photographed everything he did, back through the days of Clay. One, singular archive of exclusive behind the scenes access to one of the most famous people on the planet.

The fact that both of these people happened to have this rich visual record to accompany their fame certainly elevated their legacies.

My grandmother told me a couple of Bonnie and Clyde stories in her old age after dementia set in. We were sitting with her in a personal care home watching the movie. Granny made the statement that Bonnie was a sweet girl, but Clyde was mean "as all get out." I asked her how she know that. She informed me that she and my grandfather and some friends used to meet them for picnics in the Houston area when Clyde was visiting relatives. I thought she had a vivid imagination. Then I checked her dates and locations. I found no hard evidence, but the timing and locations made perfect sense!


And speaking of stories, I'm reading Australian author Arthur Upfield's 1931 novel The Sands of Windee, on account of the fascinating fact of what happened after the author discussed the murder technique with several people while he was still writing the book. One of these people then used said technique to commit actual murders (before the publication of the book), the so called Murchison Murders in Western Australia.



As a child I was told that there were multiple Bonnie & Clyde cars touring the country...

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