Original Gangsters

They're young. They're in love. And they kill people.

That tagline from the 1967 film Bonnie & Clyde tells the basic tale of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, the Dallas bank robbers who led the Barrow Gang across the Midwest, racking up wanted posters while filling body bags. But the film offered something more: a romantic story of young lovers gone bad as played by the dapper duo of Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. Arthur Penn's film portrayed Bonnie & Clyde as Romeo and Juliet with guns, a pair of Robin Hoods who let a poor farmer keep his cash during a hold-up. It inspired throw-back fashions, a legion of history buffs who still devour every word published about the couple and a following among '60s counter-culture kids who saw Bonnie and Clyde as the absolute in anti-establishment idols. It also inspired a backlash toward glamorizing murderers while shoving the victims into the background, making their deaths just means to Bonnie and Clyde's grisly ends.

Now, 67 years after Bonnie and Clyde were killed in an ambush in Louisiana, the Dallas Historical Society has collected an extensive number of artifacts that tell the story of these famous criminals, their crimes, and the blood they shed from Texas to Minnesota. Called The Legend of Bonnie & Clyde, the exhibit does more than just tell the tale of a hardened criminal and the poetry-writing waitress who loved him--it reminds us of the victims they left in their wake. Besides Bonnie & Clyde's personal objects taken from the death car and the Ford V8 used in the film, The Legend of Bonnie & Clyde also includes a gallery dedicated to the peace officers who worked the case, including five who were killed, and a "funeral parlor" room devoted to the gang's other victims. In addition, the entire 18 minutes of the film that was shot at the ambush will be shown for the first time in 65 years. There's nothing like cold, hard truth to shoot a few holes in a legend.


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