The Arthur Penn-directed neo-noir crime flick “Bonnie and Clyde” kicked off the New Hollywood movement in 1967 (via The Mancunion). Interestingly enough, nobody thought the film would leave such a lasting impression on cinema, and initially, it proved to be exceptionally difficult to get the movie made.
As detailed by NewWaveFilm, the idea to pen a script about the lives of real-life gangsters Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow came by way of two young writers: Robert Benton and David Newman. Although they didn’t have much professional experience, they were influenced by Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard of the French New Wave movement, and, in particular, the moral dilemmas of the characters in “Breathless” and “Jules and Jim.”
Warren Beatty, who played Clyde, found out about the movie from Truffaut himself and, after reading the script, declared he wanted to produce the film as well. The actor reportedly pleaded to studio head Jack Warner of Warner Bros. to finance the film, who finally agreed, yet after the movie’s release, absolutely hated it. The result was a limited release with a few negative initial reviews, yet audiences gave it a second chance after The New Yorker’s enthusiastic evaluation.
In 1968, “Bonnie and Clyde” was nominated for a whopping 10 Academy Awards (winning two, via the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), but its influence was much more impactful. As the BBC writes, thanks to the film’s gratuitous violence, it changed the entire rating system, leading to the release of the Motion Picture Association of America film-rating guidelines, still in use today.