What The Highwaymen Gets Right and Wrong About the Murder of Bonnie and Clyde

In 21st-century pop culture, Bonnie and Clyde are folk heroes. The gunslinging pair memorably portrayed by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in Arthur Penn’s now-classic 1967 film were re-immortalized in a 2013 miniseries and in recent songs by Taylor Swift, Quavo, Gucci Mane and Ariana Grande. They inspired a viral rap battle and hovered over the 2017 Oscars debacle. They have come to represent the platonic “ride or die” couple: alluring anti-establishment heroes who built their own outsize personas long before Instagram and stuck it to the banks long before Occupy Wall Street.

But The Highwayman, a new Netflix film, paints them in a very different light. The movie, which debuted at South by Southwest, plays in select theaters starting March 15 and begins streaming on March 29, tells the story through the eyes of the two officers, Frank Hamer and Maney Gault (played by Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson), who hunt them down as they leave a trail of death and wreckage across the South. In this version, Bonnie and Clyde aren’t populist legends but remorseless killers who discard innocent lives for their own gain.

In attempting to recast a story that has become ingrained in pop culture, however, The Highwaymen takes its own liberties with history. Here’s what the film gets right and wrong about Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow and the men who killed them.

Did Bonnie and Clyde stage a breakout at the Eastham jail?

The Highwaymen opens with a dramatic breakout at Eastham Prison Farm, an infamously brutal jail in Texas where Barrow himself served time. In the scene, inmates retrieve hidden guns, shoot guards and then run for the trees—where Parker, wearing a pink dress and wielding a machine gun, is waiting to give them cover with a thunderous stream of fire. Three inmates make it to Clyde’s car, and they easily escape.

The broad strokes of the portrayal are accurate. In 1934, Barrow and Parker whisked off several inmates from a jail that was previously considered impenetrable. The inmates would become part of the Barrow Gang, a rotating cast of accomplices alongside the infamous duo. Newspapers were quick to give them all the credit, and the breach of security led directly to the hiring of Frank Hamer to track them down.

But the plan was devised not by the Barrows. It was arranged by Raymond Hamilton, one of the escapees and an associate of the Barrow Gang. Clyde Barrow simply served as the driver of the getaway car.

How murderous were Bonnie and Clyde?

Bonnie Parker is portrayed as particularly violent in The Highwaymen, from her use of an automatic rifle in that opening sequence to a murder in cold blood on the side of a highway. Jeff Guinn, who wrote the biography Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde, refutes this depiction of her, saying that there are only two or so records of her firing a gun, and …read more

Source:: Time – Entertainment

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