If you were to ask just about anyone, I’m sure they will tell you with a wry smile that love can make a person do some pretty darn foolish things…
And if indeed the history of cinema were of any indicator, we could compile a lengthy list of characters, protagonists and heroes that have found themselves embroiled in conflict of some form or another because of their bleeding hearts.
It’s particularly intriguing to note that over the decades various generations have been almost uniform in their sympathy for the main players of the couple on the run genre. Tense in our cinema seats like accomplices in the getaway car, we have rallied behind- and rooted for those lovers with an instinctive propensity for sex and violence.
Young, ruthless and inadvertently rash, we keep the engine running for some of the greatest films of those in love and on the run.
True Romance (1993)
‘When all I could hear was the gunshots, and all I could smell was the violence in the air; I look back and I’m amazed that my thoughts were so clear and true…’
The first screenplay for a motion picture written by Quentin Tarantino, and featuring a stand-out support cast of colourful characters including Dennis Hopper, Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman and Christopher Walken, is director Tony Scott’s thrill seeking ride across the city limits with a loaded pistol and a bag full of contraband.
Very much a cult film, peppered with every archetype element of the lovers crime tale… True Romance bares much of the cinematic fingerprint that would become distinctive in Tarantino’s work.
Wild At Heart (1990)
Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1990, David Lynch’s 5th film takes to the open roads of middle America and doesn’t look back…
Well, perhaps at times only ever-so slightly to take a brief glance in the rear-view mirror… a nod of acknowledgement given to America’s predecessors of popular culture like Elvis Presley, The Wizard Of Oz or Bonnie and Clyde.
Against the stern wishes of the domineering Marietta Fortune, daughter Lula Fortune (Laura Dern) and ex-con Sailor Ripley (Nicholas Cage) decide to make a beeline to California. Unbeknownst to the lovebirds their actions set in motion the subsequent manhunt by private detectives, mentally deranged criminals and violent hit men.
Terrence Malick’s taut, poetic and melodious crime tale descends, dreamlike and almost pleasantly- like the drop of a feather, into a wave of dead-end violence and enduring calamity…
Through the voiceover narration of 15-year old protagonist Holly Sargis (Sissy Spacek) we follow her early infatuation and romantic involvement with the troublesome, leather jacket clad greaser Kit Caruthers (Martin Sheen), as he whisks her away from the small town of Fort Dupree and toward the badlands of Montana.
A protege of Bonnie and Clyde director Arthur Penn, Malick says he intended to give his first feature a dreamy, fairytale feel. He described the central character of Kit to be:
‘so desensitized that he can regard the gun with which he shoots people as a kind of magic wand that eliminates small nuisances’.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
The infamous film that would burst on the scene with the force of a runaway freight train, breaking on through cinema taboos with it’s candid and stark depictions of sex and violence; influencing later generations of filmmakers including those mentioned above.
Arthur Penn’s brazen autobiographical crime tale of America’s penultimate lovebird felons is heralded as a landmark film for it’s period set design, award winning cinematography by Burnett Guffrey, and performances from Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons and lead actors Faye Dunaway and producer/contributing screenwriter Warren Beatty.
Gun Crazy (1950)
Based upon a short story published in a 1940 edition of The Saturday Evening Post, comes this bullet-paced crime tale and hard-boiled Noir, dripping with thick helpings of gun-toting immorality and sexual innuendo.
From a screenplay by the blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo under the pseudonym Millard Kaufman, Gun Crazy stars sharpshooting couple Peggy Cummins and John Dall who both share an unbridled fetish for firearms.
With memorable bank heist sequences, meticulous long takes and clever improvised dialogue, the film exceeded it’s near-sighted expectations, and went on to become a cult classic for B-Movie producers The Kings Brothers.
They Live By Night (1948)
Nicholas Ray’s bold Noir and first feature film is generally regarded as the forerunner to the couple on the run genre.
With one last attempt to win back his name, wrongly acquitted protagonist Bowie (Farley Granger) escapes from prison with a couple of notorious bank robbers. In order to hire a lawyer to prove his innocence, he agrees to assist the nefarious escapees in one audacious heist.
However, it is precisely at this point that he crosses paths with Keechie (Cathy O’Donnell) the attractive daughter of a gas station owner, and his resulting feelings throw a spanner in the entire operation.
Bande â part (1964), Natural Born Killers (1994), Love & A .45 (1994)