Thursday, October 23, 2014
I Saw The Bonnie And Clyde Death Car?!?!
Pilot Point is a small Texas town set in horse country north of Dallas. I used to drive up regularly for some famous blueberry fruit pies to be found there. It's a wonderful drive through the horse ranches and rural shops lining the highway leading to the turn off that takes you back in time to an old fashioned town square. When scouting for the "Bonnie and Clyde" film so many decades ago the producers were thrilled to find so many rural Texas towns be perfectly preserved.
Pilot Point was never robbed by the Barrow gang in real life - but it was in the movie. So the town elders decided to pick up on that heritage and hold a Bonnie Clyde Days festival every October. I went to the first one but this year had something special: the actual car in which the infamous duo met their fate. That was a mildly shocking claim to me because it was my understanding the car was in a casino in Nevada. Naturally, I had to go check it out.
I asked a woman helping to present the car how they managed to get the car there. "By trailer!" she responded as if I were a bit of a dim bulb. I went on to explain that I wondered how they wrangled the car from the Nevada casino. Then she pointed to a guy next to her, saying, "Oh, he owns it." Well, that was really confusing!
He went on to spin a yarn about a mysterious eccentric millionaire holed up in these parts who had the real ambush car while they had the wrong one at the casino. He also claimed to have some of their guns including the one Bonnie slipped to Clyde at the Waco jail. Mystery millionaire shelled out a couple hundred grand for these items at some point in time but had recently passed away. Now this guy was in possession of all these valuable artifacts. True or not, an interesting tale!
Depression era themes abound and one really cool feature every year is the old farm equipment on display. The early tractors are a hoot, making you want to try them out plowing a field. The peanut threshers are also always there. I caught them in action, looking as if they'd still do just great today. The video below shows how they'd have been harvested back in the day.
Besides the tractors there were the usual booths, classic cars and depression era themed spots all with the backdrop of buildings from that era.
But the highlight is always the "robbing" of the bank. In year one it was staged and filmed by the film school from a university in nearby Denton. Now it's been taken over by the local high school and they put a different twist on it. Instead of staging what would be an actual robbery by the famous duo, they embraced recreating the movie staging of a robbery. All the players were miked up, playing out their parts from a script.
What was unnerving was seeing the Bonnie and Clyde characters as portrayed by the teenagers realizing the actual duo was scarcely older than the high schoolers when they embarked on their spree. It brought home more of the tragedy to me, of realizing wasted youth. The skit they played out was of the film director location scouting with Warren Beatty. There were many sly jokes at the expense of Beatty's well known ego which made me wonder who wrote the script.
The kids were delightful with their youth and enthusiasm. They had a great vibe around them and the whole small town atmosphere of the crowd was like one big family. Actors and audience alike were enjoying themselves. I was really proud of the kids doing the the hardest thing in movies: comedy. Takes a lot of guts to perform in front of your home town like that. Here's a small clip below.
It was nice to be able to step into a bygone era with the safety of time between then and now. The 30's were a horrific decade with much suffering and despair, people scrambling for scraps of hope and finding still less. I liked the change of focus from an actual robbery to movie making. It does more justice to the actual history. It's a really cool event and everyone should go at least once if you get the chance.
Click here to see the entire photo set