By Nate Hendley
I recently watched, The Highwaymen on Netflix.
This new film focuses on the hunt for bandits Bonnie and Clyde in the 1930s, as led by former Texas Rangers Frank Hamer (played by Kevin Costner) and Maney Gault (played by Woody Harrelson).
Taut and well-made, The Highwaymen is an excellent corrective to Arthur Penn’s wildly popular 1967 movie, Bonnie and Clyde, which depicted the duo as glamorous scofflaws with a Robin Hood mentality.
In real-life, Bonnie and Clyde were a pair of murderous sociopaths who primarily robbed gas stations and grocery stores and gunned down small-town cops in cold blood.
The Highwaymen shows Bonnie and Clyde in all their feral nastiness—ambushing police and executing them with glee. The movie gets other small details right (Clyde’s weapon of choice was the fantastically lethal Browning Automatic Rifle for example, not the Thompson sub-machine gun, as is commonly depicted).
In the Arthur Penn movie, Bonnie and Clyde are killed in a roadside attack when a posse led by Hamer open fire without warning from hiding spots. In The Highwaymen, Hamer confronts Bonnie and Clyde and orders their surrender. Hamer and his fellow policemen (who also step out of hiding) only start shooting when Clyde reaches for his gun.
While it’s unclear which movie offers a more accurate portrayal of Bonnie and Clyde’s deaths, The Highwaymen goes a long way in deglamorizing a pair of awful killers.
I wrote about Bonnie and Clyde’s crime spree in my book, Bonnie and Clyde: A Biography, published by ABC-CLIO.
My book is available at Amazon and the ABC-CLIO website, among other sources.
Click here to watch The Highwaymen movie trailer.
(Nate Hendley is a Toronto-based journalist, speaker and author. His website http://www.natehendley.com/ offers more details about his books and background)