Monday, October 31, 2016

TODAY'S NUGGET: Bonnie & Clyde (1967) - How Relationships Deepen Characters

[Quick Summary: In the 1930s, Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow, and their gang rob banks and leave a trail of frightened locals.]

This script is unusual:

- It is a character study.
- It has a female co-lead.
- It still is discussed, thought it was released 51 years ago.
- It still is a script that I would buy today.
- It still is better than 90% of the scripts that I see today.

So, you may ask, "What makes this script stand out?"

For me, it is the unusual focus on character relationships, even with minor ones, that give the audience a fuller picture of what drives Bonnie and/or Clyde.

[This is a great contrast to many of today's scripts which are so, so focused on plot because that's what you can put in the trailers.*  Too much plot = I get bored.]

ex. Clyde could be a stock character, but how he handles relationships deepens him. 

In the scene below, Buck and his wife Blanche are driving to meet Clyde.  What kind of robber stirs up this kind of joy?  Is he really that bad?

"BLANCHE: All right, now you did foolish things as a young man, honey-love, but you went and paid your debt to society and that was right. But now you just gettin' back in with the criminal element.

BUCK: Criminal element! This is my brother, darlin'. Shoot, he ain't no more criminal than you are, Blanche.

BLANCHE: Well, that ain't what I heard.

BUCK: Now word of mouth just don't go, darlin', you gotta have the facts. Shoot. Why he and me growed up together, slept and worked side by side. (laughing). God, what a boy he was!

BLANCHE: He's a crook.

BUCK: (chidingly) Now you stop bad mouthin' him, Blanche. We're just gonna have us a little family visit for a few weeks and then we'll go back to Dallas and I'll get me a ob somewheres. I just ain't gonna work in your Daddy's church - That's final. (laughing it off, singing)....

EXT. CABIN. The front of the motel. Day.

Buck's car drives up to the cabin, honking the horn wildly. The door of the cabin opens and Clyde comes running out. He is overjoyed to see his brother. Buck jumps out of the car, equally delighted. They hug each other.

CLYDE: (hugging him) Buck!
BUCK: Clyde! You son of a bitch!

They laugh happily and begin sparring with each other, faking punches and blocking punches - an old childhood ritual. There is a great feeling of warmth between the two brothers. Clyde is more outgoing than we have ever seen him before."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Relationships can present hidden sides of a character. They can also change our opinion of him/her.

Bonnie & Clyde (1967)
by David Newman & Robert Benton

* Here's the trailer for this film. Note the focus on the relationships.

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