Bonnie and Clyde Style

Manolo says, the Manolo has been considering these photos for many days now, and has come to the conclusion that the real Bonnie and Clyde are more stylish and more elegant than the ersatz Bonnie and Clyde.

Why are the pair of malnourished rural outlaws able to outdo two of the most famous movie stars of the past fifty years, appearing in one of the most important films of the past fifty years?

Certainly, Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty are the physically better looking couple. Beatty is tall and handsome, and Dunaway is statuesque and beautiful. And yet, our eye is draw repeatedly to the tiny-tiny girl with the big-big gun. (How tiny-tiny? Clyde Barrow was about 5′ 4″, Bonnie Parker, 4’11”.)

Bonnie Parker is more compelling than Faye Dunaway! But why?

Bonnie’s form-fitting clothing seems better tailored, and the monochromatic skirt, blouse, and beret (worn swept back on her head) gives her the long elegant line that lengthens her tiny frame. While Faye Dunaway’s contrasting light-and-dark outfit cuts her below the waist, making her legs seem shorter and her hips and trunk thicker, and she wears her beret as if it were the silly chef’s toque. Even the plunging neckline of her ill-fitting sweater is less interesting and less sexy than Bonnie’s high band collar and form-hugging knits.

As for the shoes…

Bonnie Parker's ShoesFaye's Shoe

No contest.

Here is the second set of comparative photos…

Bonnie with CigarFaye with Cigar

Allow the Manolo to stipulate that you would have to be as tiny as Bonnie to pull off that fascinating blouse with the faux cropped-jacket detailing. It is far more original and impressive than anything cooked up by the talented Theadora Van Runkle, who was nominated for the Oscar for Best Costume Design for the movie.

These photos are also striking because the take us beyond the differences in clothing and physical beauty, (Faye Dunaway is indisputably beautiful, and dressed by the famous professional, and yet Bonnie outshines her) into the realm of attitude and posture and pose.

The pose is superficially the same, but while Bonnie is all sinuous s-curves (hips, bosom, arms, legs), Dunaway is angular and erect. Faye leans away from us, Bonnie leans in. Dunaway is imperious and haughty; Bonnie frank, direct, and exceedingly dangerous.

It is one of the most fascinating feminine comparisons the Manolo has ever seen.

As for the men, Clyde Barrow is wearing clothing. Warren Beatty is wearing the costume.

The giveaway is Warren Beatty’s spectator shoes and narrow legged pants; he is dressed in the 1960s Hollywood version of what the 1930s suiting should look like. As the result, Beatty, the famously relaxed actor, looks stiff and false in his well-tailored costume, while Barrow, the stone killer, is relaxed and natural in his round-shouldered suit and full-legged pants.

Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde is the marvelous piece of cinema, but ultimately, it is the real Bonnie and Clyde who have outdone their supposedly more glamorous doppelgangers.