The final sequence in Bonnie and Clyde, which includes sixty shots in less than a minute, took longer to film than anything else in the movie. [Arthur] Penn used four cameras for every setup, each one filming from the same angle but running at a different speed. He extended the gunfire from five seconds to twenty-five; he rigged Beatty and Dunaway with dozens of squibs and blood packets that would be set off when Beatty squeezed a pear Clyde was eating; he attached a piece of prosthetic scalp to Beatty’s head that an off screen makeup man would pull off using an invisible nylon thread (a subliminally fast moment designed expressly to evoke memories of the Kennedy assassination); he tied one of Dunaway’s legs to the gearshift of the car so that she would eventually be able to fall dead according to “the laws of gravity” without hurting herself; and he devised separate pieces of choreography for Beatty, who is quickly knocked onto the dusty road by bullets and Dunaway, who dances like a marionette behind the steering wheel, unable to even fall over as the bullets jolt her in every direction. “There’s a moment in death where the body no longer functions, when it becomes an object and has a certain kind of detached, ugly beauty,” he said. “It was that aspect I was trying to get.” Penn mapped out every shot in advance, including the fast, flashing sequence of close-ups in which Beatty and Dunaway realize what’s happening and lock eyes. The elaborate setup of the squibs meant that he had time to film the scene from only two angles each day. On the fourth afternoon, he was done.
Producer: Tatira Hiller, Warner Bros, Warren Beaty Screenplay: David Newman, Robert Benton Cinematography: Burnett Guffey
“They’re young, they’re in love and they kill people.” was the effective publicity line of this most stylish and uncompromising of gangster pictures based on a true story. In this film, the bank robbers are portrayed as heroic and romantic-star-crosses-lovers caught up in a whirl of violence and passion, meticulously evoked by posed photographes in sepia. The black comedy moves inevitably toward the much imitated ending in slow motion-the pair die in a hail of bullets.