WEIRDLAND: Bonnie & Clyde (50th Anniversary), 1967-Summer of Love (Jim Morrison)

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Bonnie & Clyde (50th Anniversary), 1967-Summer of Love (Jim Morrison)

The New York Times panned it, and studio chief Jack Warner thought the movie was a bomb, but “Bonnie and Clyde” was a game-changer during the summer of 1967. The Hollywood revolution the Warren Beatty/Faye Dunaway vehicle began would be bolstered by another sleeper hit released at the end of 1967 — “The Graduate.” Within two years, the major studios would start rolling out a new breed of frankly adult films that would include “Midnight Cowboy,” “Easy Rider” and “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” “Bonnie and Clyde” had a rocky reception at first. The Warner Brothers studio leadership viewed the 1930s-era bank robbers tale as a B-picture that might be best suited to drive-in theaters in the South. 

It was only due to the intense lobbying of Warren Beatty — who was making his debut as a producer, as well as starring in the movie — that the film was opened in New York City and Los Angeles to see if it might stir up enough interest to warrant a national release. The film’s treatment of sudden violence shocked many of those early moviegoers, with the quick changes from comedy to horror upsetting audiences whose idea of a fun night out was the new Doris Day picture, “The Ballad of Josie.” The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther was so upset by “Bonnie and Clyde” that he attacked it before and after it opened in Manhattan on Aug. 13, calling the film “a cheap piece of bald-faced slapstick that treats the hideous depredations of that sleazy, moronic pair as though they were as full of fun and frolic as the jazz-age cut-ups in ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie.’”

Time magazine’s Alan Rich called the film “a strange and purposeless mingling of fact and claptrap.” (After the movie took off at the box office, the same magazine ran a cover story on the impact “Bonnie and Clyde” was having on Hollywood, with the tagline “The New Cinema: Violence ... Sex ... Art.) The treatment of violence and the presentation of bank-robbing killers as characters worthy of sympathy disconcerted even sophisticated reviewers like Joseph Morgenstern of Newsweek (now a critic at the Wall Street Journal), who first panned “Bonnie and Clyde” and then retracted that review a week later after giving the movie a second look. Source:

In 1987 Julie Christie would say her decision not to marry Warren Beatty “is certainly not a regret. It’s all been a choice I’ve made for myself.” A close friend of Beatty, production designer Richard Sylbert, remarked: “Warren told me he was dumped in all of his relationships,” partings that were extremely difficult for Beatty, who had always had a tender heart and who confessed his dependency on love: “It was always accompanied by a tremendous amount of separation anxiety and sadness,” Beatty said in his fifties. “Well, I hope it wasn’t as bad on the other side, but it was always bad with me.” Beatty had rejected a screenplay for PT 109, a Warner Brothers film based on President John F. Kennedy’s youthful wartime experiences. 

Kennedy had seen Beatty in Splendor in the Grass, “and he wanted me to play him.” “I remember,” confirmed Senator Edward M. Kennedy, “my brother thought he would be terrific in the part.” Beatty’s rejection of a personal request from the president of the United States caused a minor scandal. According to Beatty and to Kennedy’s press secretary, Pierre Salinger, Beatty told Salinger that the script was badly written, a concern reinforced by a negative meeting he had with Jack Warner and the producer, Bryan Foy. “Jack Warner kicked me off the lot,” recalled Beatty, “because I told Kennedy I didn’t think he should allow the movie to be made. I said I didn’t think it was very good.” Before Warner threw Beatty out, he asked him to fly to Washington to meet the president and reconsider. “I couldn’t say no to the part after I’d already met the President and discussed it with him,” reasoned Beatty, “so I said I wouldn’t fly to Washington. Someone in the office said, ‘Why not fly the President to Hollywood?’”

Without a doubt it was Arthur Penn, and not Warren Beatty, who expressed interest in casting Faye Dunaway for Bonnie. After a meeting at the Plaza, the director asked her to fly to Los Angeles, so she could pass the scrutiny of Beatty and meet the writers. Faye Dunaway would say later that she and Beatty had a “tacit understanding” during filming to remain platonic friends, because “both of us felt that any kind of romance would be distracting.” Although the writers wanted to hint at Clyde's bisexual inclinations, Beatty refused to accept any 'fag' reference, so he would play some impotence scenes instead.

The climactic scene was the “ballet of violence” in which the Barrow gang is ambushed in a slow motion storm of gunshots. According to editor Dede Allen, the scene was intended to evoke the Zapruder footage of President John F. Kennedy’s murder in Dallas, Beatty’s and Penn’s social comment on the increasing violence of the sixties. “Arthur shot the ending like Kennedy’s assassination.” If, as Beatty later was to say, his personal life could be defined as “Before Annette [Bening]” and “With Annette [Bening],” his career would be considered pre–Bonnie and Clyde and post–Bonnie and Clyde, as the historic events of 1967 would demonstrate.  —"Warren Beatty: A Private Man" (2005) by Suzanne Finstad

Warren Beatty met casually Jim Morrison at a party in Santa Monica Canyon held at screenwriter Gavin Lambert's home. Other attendants were Andy Warhol, Tuesday Weld (whom Warhol was dying to meet), Julie Christie, Janis Joplin, Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate. Beatty was a big fan of The Doors, especially of their frontman.

Linda Ashcroft offers an intimate memoir of Jim Morrison at the height of his career. This vivid portrait is based on her diaries from the four-year period when she knew Morrison. Wild Child (1999) is a passionate account of what life was like with the legendary Doors singer. Before flying to Paris, Morrison told Linda: "It may have been in bits and pieces, but I gave you the best of me." Linda Ashcroft was 15 and a runaway in San Francisco during the Summer of Love when she encountered Morrison alone in a coffee bar. Over the next four years, until his death in 1971, their relationship deepened and developed. Wild Child is surely too detailed to be a work of the imagination, from her hand-written diaries annotated by Morrison to a tearful meeting with the promoter Bill Graham, who visited her after the singer's death. Not a single photograph of the two of them together can be traced. One is said to have been taken by the actor Dennis Hopper, who spent some time together with the couple in 1969. It was buried somewhere in boxes of Hopper's personal archives. Ashcroft says she is prepared for people to be sceptical. "Jim compartmentalised his life," she offers by way of explanation. Her account does not fall into the category of a star-struck groupie, although it had a sexual dimension. After their first meeting she went home to her parents in the small town of Stockton, about two hours east of San Francisco. Source:

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