Thursday, September 30, 2010

In Memoriam: Arthur Penn 1922-2010

Director. The Miracle Worker. Bonnie and Clyde. Alice's Restaurant. Little Big Man.

"They're young...They're in love...And they kill people."

--Ad for Bonnie and Clyde.

"A cheap piece of bald-faced slapstick comedy that treats the hideous depredations of that sleazy, moronic pair as though they were as full of fun and frolic as the jazz-age cutups in Thoroughly Modern Millie."

--New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther

"How do you make a good movie in this country without getting jumped on?...The accusation that the beauty of movie stars makes the anti-social acts of their characters dangerously attractive is the kind of contrived argument we get from people who are bothered by something and clutching at straws. Bonnie and Clyde brings into the almost frighteningly public world of movies things people have been feeling and saying and writing about."

--New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael.

"I was attacked for the violence in the film, but I wanted to show shootings as they really are--bloody and horrible--so the Vietnam casualty lists wouldn't just be meaningless numbers."

--Arthur Penn


  1. Bonnie and Clyde was ART.

    I'm glad I live in a world where reenactments of events, even violent ones can still be art.

    Some people take on too much responsibility for ordering the reactions and sensibilities of others.

    Didn't know Penn had died. Thanks for letting me know.

  2. @Kass--Sorry it took me so long to respond, Kass.

    I think one reason some people didn't like that movie was that it showed the appeal of the outlaw way of life. The characters seem like they're having fun during much of that film. Of course, that changes dramatically when Gene Hackmen's character gets half his head blown off, and the other characters suffer some serious wounds. For me, that sudden shift in tone (as occasionally happens in real life), is what makes that film so compelling.

    I didn't know Penn was as old as he was. That means he was pushing 50 when he made B+C, Alice's Restaurant, and Little Big Man, all in a row. Nice to know you don't always have to be young to be provocative.

  3. i think there is a freedom that comes with age, to be provocative in ways that are thoughtful and intentional, rather than reactive. then again, sometimes we just want to stir shit up.

    sorry for the delayed reaction-the reflexes are going!

  4. standing--I think a lot of young people shock just for the sake of shock. I know I was like that in my teens and into my 20s, cracking jokes about Hel--well, you don't want to know who I cracked jokes about. It was in very bad taste and I don't do it anymore. If I'm going to shock now, I prefer the shock to have a higher moral, social, or political significance. For instance, if it were to come out now that Sarah Palin was tutored by Anne Sullivan...

    A late reflex is better than no reflex at all. Thanks for commenting.