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The Michigan Theater shines a spotlight on transformative films of 1967 including 'Bonnie and Clyde'

(Photo: Meredith Bruckner)
(Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR – The Michigan Theater is focusing on 1967 films Mondays and Thursdays throughout November to spotlight a selection of movies that marked the transition into American New Wave from Classic Hollywood. The series premiered Thursday with "The Trip," and will continue at 7 p.m. Monday with "The Graduate." 

While we highly recommend trying to see every film in the lineup - as each one offers a unique prism by which to view the cultural shift that was taking place at that time - we're particularly fond of "Bonnie and Clyde," which screens at 9:30 p.m. Monday. The film stars Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in the title roles as the real life couple who robbed and murdered with their gang during the Great Depression. 

"Bonnie and Clyde" is an important milestone for many reasons, not the least of which is its depiction of violence and the impact it had on film criticism going forward. According to Michael Phillips, film critic of the Chicago Tribune, many critics hated the mixture of "brash high spirits and sudden bloody violence" that ran throughout the film. That was never more true than for famous New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther, who is believed to have been fired from the job he held for 27 after he wrote three separate negative reviews of "Bonnie and Clyde." It has been speculated that those reviews caused many to believe he was out of touch with the cinematic zeitgeist. 

Proving Phillips' point, Crowther wrote in his original review that "This blending of farce with brutal killings is as pointless as it is lacking in taste, since it makes no valid commentary upon the already travestied truth. And it leaves an astonished critic wondering just what purpose Mr. Penn and Mr. Beatty think they serve with this strangely antique, sentimental claptrap." 

But others, including Roger Ebert, lauded the film."Years from now it is quite possible that 'Bonnie and Clyde' will be seen as the definitive film of the 1960s, showing with sadness, humor and unforgiving detail what one society had come to," Ebert wrote. "The fact that the story is set 35 years ago doesn't mean a thing. It had to be set sometime. But it was made now and it's about us."

It could easily be argued that the film is still "about us" and therefore not to be missed on the big screen. The fact that it marked a tonal shift in the types of movies that were being made and changed the way critics wrote about them is no small feat. There is no better place to see a film like this than right here in Ann Arbor at the Michigan Theater. 

For the full schedule of films in the Michigan Theater's 1967 series, click here

Do you have a favorite film from 1967? What is it? Let us know in the comments below.