WASHINGTON, December 7, 2013 –With the unprecedented success of “The Hatfields and McCoys” on the History Channel, it was just a matter of time before the net-heads went shopping for another popular historic fable.
Next up on the “event TV” menu: “Bonnie and Clyde.”
Few tales have more appeal than the story of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde, so choosing it as the next “historical” TV subject certainly makes sense. When “Hatfields & McCoys” originally aired on History Channel, it attracted almost 14 million viewers and won several awards. But it had a lot more going for it than the new “Bonnie and Clyde.”
For one thing, it had an A-list cast that included Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton and Tom Berenger. But the main advantage was in making the first authentic film about a fable most Americans knew little about prior to the mini-series.
The trouble with attempting a remake of “Bonnie and Clyde” is the fact that it has already been done, and done well. In 1967 Arthur Penn directed Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway and Gene Hackman in a film so well done it was nominated for 22 industry awards and won 13.
That brings us back to the remake airing Sunday and Monday night. The powers behind the decision to make the two night mini-series are so confident with their choice they are airing “Bonnie and Clyde” on three networks simultaneously.
There are no A-list names other than the always fabulous Holly Hunter and William Hurt. Come to think of it, those two would have been great choices for the lead roles.
Emile Hirsch has the unenviable task of portraying Clyde, and forever having his performance compared to Warren Beatty’s. Hirsch is best known for his role in “Into the Wild.” His performance in this film as the free-spirited “Alexander Supertramp” was a joy to watch, but it was no help in preparing Hirsch to play one of the most well known and notorious criminals in American history.
British actress Holliday Grainger plays the role of the attention loving Bonnie. It should be interesting to see how well the Brit captures the many nuances of the Texas accent. Grainger has played quite a few younger roles in her short career, but she is best known for her role as Lucrezia Borgia on the Showtime series “The Borgias.”
Compared to Hirsch, she is relatively unknown.
There is virtually no chance that the History Channel remake of “Bonnie and Clyde” will trumph the 1967 film, but that doesn’t mean it is not worth watching. America has a unique love affair with criminals that will serve the remake well. Regardless of who plays the notorious duo, we will watch and revel in their general lawlessness.
With suspicion of authority at an all time high in this country, expect millions to tune in and secretly cheer for the ill-fated Bonnie and Clyde.
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