There’s no question that the crime spree of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, the bank-robbing desperadoes who killed nine police officers and several civilians, had to be stopped. On 5.23.34 they were ambushed and killed in a Louisiana backwater by a special posse consisting of four Texas-based lawmen (Frank Hamer, B.M. “Manny” Gault, Bob Alcorn, Ted Hinton) and two Louisiana officers (Henderson Jordan, Prentiss Morel Oakley).

A grim but necessary task, okay, but can someone please explain what was so cool and bad-ass about this? Firing 300-plus rounds into two people from a cover of bushes and whatnot, and generally cutting them into ribbons?

John Lee Hancock‘s The Highwaymen (Netfix, 3.29) seems to be selling da coolness. Hamer (Kevin Costner) and Gaulty (Woody Harrerlson) were grizzled and cussy old boys, but they had the balls and the moxie to do the dirty deed. Or something like that.

A whole different mythology was sold by Warren Beatty and Arthur Penn‘s Bonnie and Clyde (’67). Back then there was more of an oppressive socio-economic context — common rural people had been fucked over by the Depression and the predatory banks, and Bonnie and Clyde were wild and reckless enough to just steal whatever the hell they wanted.

Everyone remembers Denver Pyle‘s Frank Hamer — a joyless, moustachioed guy with a pot belly.