Posts Tagged ‘Bonnie and Clyde’


This week I noticed how many musical biographies I have on that little iDevice of mine, each one more educational than the last (history books teach us nothing, you hear me, nothing!). To help create snappy headlines for a catalog that I’m working on for my book publishers, I’ve relied heavily on lines from these musicals and amused myself in the process. To help promote a collection of books that have been translated into English, I stole from Yentl the line “Tell me where, where is it written?” to use as its headline. The wine titles and their purple covers will be promoted with the handle borrowed from Fiddler on the Roof, “To life, to life, l’chaim.” The list of books on climate change could very well end up under the header, “Don’t rain on my parade,” but I should go for subtlety here if I want to keep it up.

Biopics have also entered my watch history in the last few months, as I just wrapped up the brilliant miniseries, John Adams (2008), starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, two people who should be married in real life. It was such a gratifying and addictive series, that naturally I scoured my shelves in search of others from the same genre. Ranking one’s favorite biopics turned into wonderfully frustrating task, as feelings of neglect and betrayal surfaced with each resort. But we gave it a go . . .


15) Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, The Queen (2006)

Helen mirren_2

The movie itself, not my favorite, but with every hand gesture and tilt of her head, Helen Mirren unveils the broaches and emotions of Her Majesty The Queen, eventually taking home the Oscar.



14) Judi Dench as Queen Victoria, Mrs. Brown (1997)


“No one should think themselves wiser than me!” Dame Judi Dench is the aunt we all wish we had, am I right? I think her earrings move only in the direction that she commands – wind and gravity are nothing to this woman.



13) Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan, The Miracle Worker (1962)


As Helen Keller’s tutor, Anne Bancroft’s miraculous scenes with Patty Duke include only grunts of frustration instead of dialogue. Astounding, but once was enough.



12) Meryl Streep as Julia Child, Julie and Julia (2009)

Meryl Streep as "Julia Child" in Columbia Pictures' JULIE & JULIA.

Julia Child now looks like Meryl Streep to me, and Stanley Tucci is delicious, as always. Sandra Bullock seems like a lovely person, but in 2010 the Academy really should have given more thought to its choice in the Best Actress category.



11) William Powell as Florenz Ziegfeld, The Great Ziegfeld (1936)


It clocks in at just under three hours, but who could have too many helpings of William Powell? During the elaborate numbers of the Ziegfeld Follies, I could be found adding three different biographies on Flo to my wish list.



10) Spencer Tracy as Father Flanagan, Boys Town (1938)


In a pinch he can be tougher than you are, and I guess maybe this is the pinch.



9) Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne as Ike and Tina Turner, What’s Love Got to Do with It (1993)


Have you ever wanted to knock the television off its stand just to stop what’s happening in the movie? Taking logical action and switching it off won’t help a thing; the only way for me to save Tina from Ike is to throw that television to the floor with all my might. There were no instructions in the box telling me not to do this.



8) Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker, Bonnie and Clyde (1967)


Love for Mr. Beatty and all, but every shot (ha!) of Faye Dunaway in this film is exquisite and should be framed on my wall.



7) Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote, Capote (2005)


At Harper Lee’s party celebrating To Kill a Mockingbird, he sits at the bar and mutters, “I frankly don’t see what all the fuss is about.” Ten seconds in a film can be more heartbreaking than all of its seconds combined.



6) Jessica Lange as Frances Farmer, Frances (1982)


Reaching for the moon? No, just one little star . . . on a dressing room door. Once again, the supreme Jessica Lange gives voice to every rejection, deception, and ambition through which her audience itself has suffered. It must have been by one vote when Meryl took Oscar home that year for Sophie’s Choice.



5) Greta Garbo as Christina, Queen of Sweden, Queen Christina (1933)


This list overflows with royalty, but Garbo was the Queen before them all, including Capote. Unconvinced that a queen requires a king for a successful rule, Christina promises that she will die a bachelor.



4) James Cagney as George M. Cohan, Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)


Sometimes a gangster; sometimes a vaudevillian who can tap-dance down a staircase at the White House. As entertainer George Cohan, James Cagney was living proof that magic exists . . . no one can dance like that without assistance.



3) Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I, Elizabeth (1998)


I was torn between listing this or Blanchett’s Oscar-winning performance as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator (2004). Her transformation into the Virgin Queen at the end of the film helped tip the scale.



2) Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, Milk (2008)


When I first saw Milk, I don’t think I said as much as two words after I left the theatre. When I saw it again, the second time at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, I had the same reaction. Luckily there were bars in every direction, and we sat for hours at Twin Peaks, drinking our drinks and smelling the fresh cookies next door until the words and tears came.



1) Madonna as Eva Perón, Evita (1996)

Madonna in Evita

Never been a lady loved as much as a desperate, misunderstood, driven woman who was hurt and disappointed by life at a young age. After the erotic, bedtime story days of the early 1990s, Madonna revealed more of herself in Evita than she ever showed us during those equally magnificent naked years. You must love her.


A few nights ago I let a good friend in on a realization I had shortly after I climbed into this Ticket Booth of mine: my goal as an artist had never been to change the world. I was never the type to come up with a brilliant sociopolitical message or image that would cause a world spiraling out of control to open its eyes to self-improvement. Rather, I want to help my readers to escape and forget about the world crumbling around them, if only for a few hours. We don’t need to close our eyes completely, but it is okay, if not recommended, to take a nap now and then. The “Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh” version of Hollywood that I have been trying desperately to keep alive has functioned as my highly valued portal out of this confusing world. It’s a portal that continues to provide me with great comfort, and over the last couple of years it’s filled me with great pleasure to share it with others.

At first I thought there were no words to describe the sadness and anger that many of us felt yesterday. But now I’m beginning to see that there are far too many words, and you’ll forgive me if I express any half-thoughts. It’s unbelievable that we’ve been here before and still we have no answers to the endless number of questions: how could this happen, how can we keep it from happening again, and of course everyone’s favorite, who’s to blame? Would answering that last question provide answers to all the rest? In the last 24 hours I’ve heard blame for the theatre shooting in Aurora, CO dropped on the doorsteps of Hollywood, Washington, D.C., the NRA, the Board of Education, all parents, liberal churches, comic books, and the ever frequent “it all started with the assassinations of JFK and MLK.” Sadly this octagon of pointed fingers that we’ve seen in past national and international tragedies never once provided me with comfort, despite which corners I feel share in the responsibility.

If memory serves, the first time moviegoers saw a bullet enter a character’s body without the camera cutting was in Bonnie and Clyde (1967). Before then, the Code determined that movie violence could be little more than sound effects and an actor’s well-timed “fall to the ground.” As the two title characters drive away from one of their earlier bank robberies, a man jumps on the running board of their car as they make their getaway . . . Clyde shoots him in the head and bloodies up the movie screen. At my current this-will-pay-the-bills-for-now job, recently I was told that I’m very good at wording emails and should be a politician. So how’s this for spin—this envelope pushing of Bonnie and Clyde resulted in skyrocketing sales of French berets, not bullets. In light of this fact, can we still blame the movies, Your Honor?

After the initial shock, the selfish thoughts started pouring in. However guilty I felt about thinking such things, I have to admit that these were there: are movie theatres no longer a safe place of escape for me? Will the process begin to parallel that of going through airport security? Should it? What will the box-office numbers will be like after this? How can I keep encouraging a love of movies if the world becomes terrified of them? I can’t stop these self-involved thoughts from popping into my head, but after they come and go, I arrive at my own bottom line:

People have lost their lives for absolutely no reason, and right now, no well-thought out argument that appropriately blames one group over another is going to make me any less angry.

Add Bonnie and Clyde to your queue.