Study Guide

Bonnie and Clyde Summary

Bonnie and Clyde Summary

Meet Bonnie Parker. She's a beautiful young waitress in small town Texas. She has big dreams—to meet an exciting man, road-trip across the nation, and…rob banks?

Yup. When dashing Clyde Barrow tries to steal Bonnie's mom's jalopy, it's love at first sight. When Clyde shows her his gun (not a euphemism: he actually just shows her his pistol), it's double-love. And when Clyde robs a bank right in front of her, she literally hops in his lap as he drives and starts smooching him.

But Clyde's not a "lover boy"—he's impotent. He can't give her XXX-rated romance, but he can give her the thrills of a lifetime. And he can make her the most famous (or at least the second-most-famous) bank robber in the American South.

Not only that, but he can make her one of the most lovable criminals in American history. From the moment when Clyde tells a destitute Depression-era refugee of the dust bowl that, "We rob banks," you just know these guys are going to be folk heroes. (It doesn't hurt that the man they speak to has just had his farm taken…by a bank.)

They soon join forces with a young mechanic named C.W. Moss, and their bank-robbing (and car-jacking) careers get well underway. But, almost immediately, there's a SNAFU: Clyde shoots a man at point-blank range.

Clyde's now a murderer, and because his mug shot's already out in the ether, it's pretty clear that the authorities know exactly who they're dealing with. Clyde—ever the gentleman—offers Bonnie a way out. But she doesn't want to go home; she wants to stay with her impotent lover boy.

Yeah; Clyde's inability to get it up is a big issue in this movie.

Two more players hit the stage: Clyde's brother Buck, and Buck's wife Blanche. The five of them hole up in a rented house in Missouri, but the cops get wise to their hideout location and they have to go on the run again.

Being on the run: a big issue. Also an issue? The fact that Blanche (a goody-goody preacher's daughter) and Bonnie hate each other. Also-also an issue? The fact that now Clyde, Buck, and C.W. have each shot cops.

  

But they all make the most of it. They read about themselves in a newspaper and all laugh at the wildly exaggerated tales of their exploits—even though they've been tooling around the Southern Midwest, the articles they read state that they've been as far north as Chicago.

During a pit stop, they humiliate a cop named Hamer. Nothing too bad (this ain't Reservoir Dogs), but bad enough to give Hamer a case of V for Vendetta: he now personally has it out for the so-called "Barrow Gang."

Hilarity continues to ensue, and the Barrow Gang's fame and infamy increase. But the movie reaches a turning point when they meet a young couple named Eugene and Velma. Everyone has a great time until Eugene mentions he's an undertaker. This mention of corpses freaks Bonnie out, big time.

She wants to go visit her mom, so the entire gang meets the Parker family in an abandoned industrial area for the grimmest picnic in recorded history. When the day ends, Clyde says that Bonnie wants to eventually live three miles from her mama. Ma Parker says, ominously, "You try and live three miles from me, and you won't live long, honey. You best keep running, Clyde Barrow."

The downer continues. Another ambush leaves Buck shot in the head. Yet another ambush leaves Blanche blinded and captured by the cops. An injured Bonnie, an injured Clyde, and C.W. escape to C.W.'s father's house, where papa C.W. (otherwise known as Malcolm) tends to the wounded couple.

But Malcolm's not too happy about harboring fugitives. He gets back in touch with the formerly humiliated cop Hamer and arranged for Bonnie and Clyde to get captured, and for C.W. to get off with a few years in jail.

Ironically, at this point Bonnie and Clyde are closer than ever before. Clyde's impotence resolves, and he proposes to Bonnie. She writes a poem about the two of them, and it's published in the newspapers.

But finally, the day of Hamer's planned ambush arrives. Bonnie and Clyde go to town with C.W., but when the time comes for them to go back to Malcolm's, C.W.'s lurking the hardware store. (He was instructed to stay in town by Malcolm: C.W. knows exactly what's about to go down.)

Bonnie and Clyde drive back along a dusty road, obviously helplessly in love with each other. They see Malcolm, who appears to have a flat tire. Suddenly, a flock of birds flies out of a nearby tree…and Malcolm hits the floor. B & C take one last look at each other—they seem to know what's coming—and then they're blown away in a hurricane of bullets.