There’s been so much buzz about two of America’s most notorious outlaws, Bonnie and Clyde recently. The Great Depression-era criminals and lovers, Clyde Champion Barrow and Bonnie Parker, has sparked debates and discussions on the U.S. criminal justice system, prosecuting these acts, and of history itself. It went on in various articles online, and even in mainstream filmography. For one, a few weeks ago, “Bonnie and Clyde” film actor Michael Pollard has died at the age of 80, CNN and The Hollywood Reporter reported on November 24th. He died of cardiac arrest at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to one of his best friends Dawn Walker.
His portrayal of a gas station crew and accomplice in the 1967 movie received accolades, being nominated in the Academy Awards. Pollard also was featured in various television shows in the 60s decade, including programs “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Star Trek.” His co-stars and other celebrities expressed their condolences and grievances on social media. Meanwhile, during that week, Vox featured how American movie “Queen & Slim” took inspiration from and made comparisons to the story of Bonnie and Clyde.
“Queen & Slim,” Vox reports, tells the story of Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith, both based on Cleveland, and how they met at a diner after meeting one another on Tinder. On their way home, Daniel and Jodie get pulled by the police and it is the officer who ends up being shot accidentally. The story clarifies how the police officer had previously shot a black man a few years ago in the same scenario.
Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson said, “Penn’s 1967 Bonnie and Clyde, which starred Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty as the pair in a sexy, sometimes shockingly violent romance, became a rallying cry for disaffected countercultural youth. But in that film and others, Bonnie and Clyde court and enjoy the notoriety that media attention brings to them; they’re the symbols of alluring danger, of youthful rebellion.”
This new movie patterned after Bonnie and Clyde continues the discussion on Black Americans being shot, and the debates on racism. The difference is, if Bonnie and Clyde was an outcry during the Great Depression, this film is being set on social media age where more youth are participating in the discussion, opening their minds on these issues. Moreover, there’s also a department store and hardware once visited by Bonnie and Clyde in northwest Louisiana closing its doors before the New Year. WBRZ-2 reports N.J. Caraway & Company, a 122-year-old store and was frequented by the duo, has served customers in Logansport town since the late 1800s. They have sold hardware, clothing, antiques, candles, and many more.
The store owner, Janet Palmer, may not belong to the generation where the American outlaws lived, but their story is well-kept within the store walls. Palmer says she is now ready to retire at 40 years old, and considers the store as her “child.” During the Great Depression, Bonnie and Clyde would visit the shop to look for ammunition which the store did not have. The store owner they will have a celebration during closing day which happens very soon.
The couple in pop media
These are only among the latest stories and news surrounding Bonnie and Clyde. But there have been several instances that these two became the inspiration to several media materials. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were criminals, thieves, and murderers who attracted media attention in the 1930s, with the press telling sensational stories of their exploits. They had a very dramatic death, dying in an ambush on the 23rd of May, 1934 at the ages of 23 and 25 years old, respectively. Since then, pop media replicated their story. If you love “Public Enemy” with Johnny Depp in it, Bonnie and Clyde are the non-fiction versions.
Works like Nicholas Ray’s “They Live By Night” (1950), Terence Malick’s “Badlands” (1973), Ridley Scott’s “Thelma & Louise” (1991), Robert Altman’s “Thieves Like Us” (1974), Kelly Reichardt’s “River Of Grass” (1994), Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers” (1994), David Lowery’s “Aint Them Bodies Saints” (2013), and Arthur Penn’s “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967) all were pattered after the themes and the stories of the American gangster duo.
During this decade and extending until the 1940s, the U.S. was land of gangsters, a reflection of the times and the economic turmoil that swept the nation, seen upon its people and culture. Recent films like “Gangster Squad” starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone would give you the picture, at least of the time of these decades.
Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow were criminal couples, both in their early 20s, who met in Texas one day in January of 1930. During this time, Bonnie was still a teenager and married to a prisoner and Clyde was 21 years old, unmarried. The beginning of their partnership was fun drama. After Clyde was arrested for stealing, he was able to escape using Bonnie’s smuggled gun, only to be re-captured and imprisoned. He received parole in February of 1932 and joined Bonnie to spend their life doing the crimes.
They did this for several years, filled with action, escapes, and adventures, before being shot to death in an ambush which happened at Bienville Parish in the state of Louisiana on the 23rd of May, 1934. It was one of the most sensational manhunts in modern American history. Their crimes included murder, robbery, and kidnapping charges. According to criminal accounts, they have killed at least four civilians and nine police officers. This way of life was famous during the Great Depression era, a time in history that was launched after the biggest stock market crash, Black Tuesday, and then became a severe global economic depression.
The leads toward the ambush started when the Bureau of Investigation, the former name of the FBI, focused on finding out on the stolen Ford car they found abandoned in Michigan, after being seized, according to records, in Oklahoma. Searching through the evidence, they were led to Bonnie and Clyde. There were several twists along the way, including the prescription bottle inside this car which connected the police to a drug store in Texas. The prescription bottle was found to belong to the aunt of Clyde. She was visited recently by the duo, including Clyde’s brother L.C. Barrow. The warrant was issued on the 20th of May that year and the hunt started.
Bonnie and Clyde rare photos
In such a time when photography was still at its dawn, it was difficult to collect images of events like the ambush. There were several popular releases around, but then there are also rare photographs that allow followers of the story to visualize the scenarios even more. Warning: graphic content ahead. Many of these photos were owned by a packrat in Texas, who was able to preserve them intact.
The former Texas ranger who cornered Bonnie and Clyde.
Guns and ammunition recovered from the stolen Ford car
The inspection of the car, the gunshots on the photos an interesting capture
More chilly photos of the ambush
- Bonnie died wearing a wedding ring, but it wasn't Clyde's ring.
- Clyde loved to sing and play their guitar at the farm. Both were music lovers. Meanwhile, Bonnie grew up interested in music in Texas, and even performed in school pageants and talent shows.
- He attempted to enter the Navy but was rejected, due to his malaria or yellow fever illness.
- Clyde chopped off his toes with an ax while in prison, and Bonnie became limp after a car accident.