Crowther, Bosley. "Run, Bonnie and Clyde." The New York Times 03 sep 1967
Immediately following the release of Bonnie and Clyde on August 4th of 1967, the film began to receive both praise and chastisement from critics. No one was more vehemently against Bonnie and Clyde and all it stood for than Bosley Crowther. Crowther was a film critic for the New York Times from the 1940s until the 1960s, when he reviewed the film in 1967. Critics across the nation were torn by the revolutionary use of violence and glorification of criminality, but Crowther achieved prominence among them as the chief advocate that the film was mere fodder.
Crowther acknowledged the social and political context that the film was meant to play on, but states, “Bonnie and Clyde does not impress me as a contribution to the thinking of our times or as wholesome entertainment”. Crowther’s main complaint seems to be the films departure from historical accuracy. Arthur Penn’s use of Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway to portray the two criminals transforms them from ugly, murderous scoundrels into beautiful, exciting heroes, which upsets Crowther. “The performance that Beatty gives of a light-hearted, show offish fellow with a talent for stealing cars and holding up banks at gunpoint is mannered playacting of a hick that bears no more resemblance to Barrow than it does to Jesse James”. Crowther believes that by straying from historical accuracy, Penn is “cheating” and “spitting noise and sparks without much truth”.
Crowther admits the technical and cinematic success of the film, but fails to see its social or artistic importance. This review, and the following writings and statements of Crowther came to headline the critics that disliked the 1967 classic. While many other critics agreed with Crowther in the recent months following the film’s release, opinions started to change, and the film slowly climbed down from the fence and settled on the positive side as a masterpiece and social icon. Crowther’s contemporary, Richard Schickel of Time magazine agreed with Crowther at first, but eventually reversed his opinion and admitted that the film was both important and brilliant. Crowther, however, never came around to agreeing with the film and was subsequently fired from The New York Times because of the public criticism he faced because of his criticism of the film.