Sometimes at Last Movie Outpost we do Retro Reviews, and sometimes we don’t even need to go that far back to find something interesting, noteworthy or worth sharing. This time we are going back, not way back, to 2019 and The Highwaymen.

Last night, I fired up my friend’s Netflix account and settled down to watch the 2019 Netflix original, The Highwaymen.  When it was first announced, I really looked forward to it, and I’ve watched it 3 or 4 times since it came out.

Being one of the 3 people left who still buy physical media, I decided to see when or if it would get a BluRay release. While searching, I ran across something that surprised me a bit. The film was not the hit I think it is. Let’s talk about it a bit.

Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Barrow captured the imagination of Depression Era America when they took off on a crime and killing spree that spanned four years and multiple states. In 1934, hardened cops Maney Gault and Frank Hamer come out of retirement to put an end to the infamous couple’s exploits.

Based on a true story about the two Texas Rangers who finally stopped Bonnie and Clyde, the story traces the investigation and manhunt that ended in one of America’s most legendary shootouts, leaving Bonnie and Clyde dead, with over fifty fatal bullet holes each.

The film stars Kevin Costner as Hamer and Woody Harrelson as Gault, two famous Texas Rangers in past their prime who are brought out of retirement to hunt down Bonnie and Clyde.  Unlike Warren Beatty’s film on the subject, it doesn’t romanticize the two scumbags and their robbing and killing spree. And, unlike that film, it is a bit more historically accurate. A huge bonus is there is no woke agenda.

It’s a  lot of fun watching two old Cowboy cops from the old days using their skills and talents to track down a new type of bandit in an age of cars, machineguns, and radio. While they sometimes wonder if they are getting too old for this shit, it’s fun watching them outsmart the Top. Men. of the young FBI of the day, with all of their modern investigating techniques.

On top of all that, we get hints of their history together. What they’ve been through and how it has affected them over the years. Maney has trouble with the memory of a massacre of Mexicans. Hamer is classic Hamer. Never doubting himself for a second.

Of course, the film can only end one way and that is with Bonnie and Clyde being aired out by the lead. It’s pretty glorious. Better than any other film depiction of the one-sided shoot-out.

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Above is a picture of the weapons removed from Bonnie and Clyde’s car after they were killed. If you wonder if it was overkill to ambush them, there is a reason for that being done.

The firepower pictured was more than what a squad of infantry would have carried at the time. The two rifles on the left and right would have destroyed the metal-bodied vehicles of that time and most houses.

A modern SWAT team does not use weapons as powerful as those two rifles above for a variety of reasons.

“In 1934, wanted outlaws Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker are shot to death by Texas and Louisiana state police officers as they attempt to escape apprehension in a stolen 1934 Ford Deluxe near Bienville Parish, Louisiana.

Beginning in early 1932, Parker and Barrow set off on a two-year crime spree, evading local police in rural Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico before drawing the attention of federal authorities at the Bureau of Investigation (as the FBI was then known). Though the couple was believed to have been responsible for 13 murders by the time they were killed, along with several bank robberies and burglaries, the only charge the Bureau could chase them on was a violation of the National Motor Vehicle Act, which gave federal agents the authority to pursue suspects accused of interstate transportation of a stolen automobile.

The car in question was a Ford, stolen in Illinois and found abandoned in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Inside, agents discovered a prescription bottle later traced to the Texas home of Clyde Barrow’s Aunt.”

As authorities stepped up the pressure to catch the outlaw couple, the heavily armed Barrow and Parker were joined at various times by the convicted murderer Raymond Hamilton. They had helped him break out of jail in 1934. They were also joined by William Daniel Jones, Clyde’s brother Ivan “Buck” Barrow, and his wife, Blanche.

In the spring of 1934, federal agents traced the Barrow-Parker gang to a remote county in southwest Louisiana, where the Methvin family was said to have been aiding and abetting the outlaws for over a year. Bonnie and Clyde, along with some of the Methvins, had staged a party at Black Lake, Louisiana, on the night of May 21.

Two days later, just before dawn, a posse of police officers from Texas and Louisiana laid an ambush along the highway near Sailes, Louisiana. When Parker and Barrow appeared, going some 85 mph in another stolen Ford–a four-door 1934 Deluxe with a V-8 engine, the officers let loose with a hail of bullets, leaving the couple no chance of survival despite the small arsenal of weapons they had with them.

The bullet-ridden Deluxe, originally owned by Ruth Warren of Topeka, Kansas, was later exhibited at carnivals and fairs then sold as a collector’s item; in 1988, the Primm Valley Resort and Casino in Las Vegas purchased it for some $250,000.

Barrow’s enthusiasm for cars was evident in a letter he wrote earlier in the spring of 1934, addressed to Henry Ford himself:

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In my opinion, the movie is great. Like I said at the start, I watch it a couple of times a year. It is a time in history that is fascinating to me. I love the mix of the Old West and the new century. Of course, it’s a great “gun-guy-movie” with attention to accurate details of the guns used by the real-life characters.

I give The Highwaymen my highest recommendation that you give it a try. So there you go. A movie recommendation and a history lesson. All part of the service.

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6 Comments

  1. John M. says:

    I also thought it was an excellent movie, though a bit gory. The characters are excellent, and how can you not root for the old-school Hamer and Gault over all the highfalutin new-school kids?

    The scene where Hamer buys out the gun store, well, it’s hard not to be jealous. I looked up when this all went down and it’s mere months before NFA 34 kicked in.

    Like

  2. LSWCHP says:

    I’ve seen it a couple of times. A great movie for all the reasons you describe. I’m gonna watch it again tonight.

    Like

  3. Bill says:

    The gun store scene is what I’ve always dreamed of doing.

    Like

  4. I’ve seen the ventilated Ford in the Primm casino about a year after it arrived there. I took a good, long look at it, and my conclusion at the time was that it was a L-shaped ambush, and there was nothing left to chance. There were few signs of carefully aimed fire – and then only at Clyde. There were two things I took away from seeing the actual car:

    1. Massed fire from the front and the driver’s side was grouped very, very specifically at Clyde. The windshield shows that over a dozen rounds were aimed at Clyde’s face through the windshield, and the left (driver’s side) of the car showed a pretty tight grouping of automatic fire which appeared to me to be ’06 rounds, drilled into the chest area of the driver’s seat.

    2. There was no subtle tactics used here. It was a straight-up hose job. Two of the six men took pains to kill Clyde as quickly and as completely as possible, and the other four shot Bonnie and then just sent rounds into the back seat area, the floorboards, the radiator, the engine, whatever seemed like a good idea at the time. At the time I saw the car, I thought “I suppose they weren’t being paid to take the ammo home…”

    The 1967 movie (which I saw in the 80’s while in college) showed Hamer as some low-IQ moron who killed B&C as revenge. Well, Hamer’s widow was able to sue the production company for an undisclosed amount (but described by her nephew as ‘enough to live on for the rest of her days’) for defaming Hamer. She won rather handily where others suing the production company failed.

    I’ve studied the career of Clyde Barrow and his gang, and all I can say is that it is remarkable how many details and facts are in dispute. There is no “one definitive source” anyone can point to that gets all (or even almost all) the details and facts correct.

    Like

    1. Wild, wild west says:

      “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

      I don’t have to tell you what movie that came out of.

      Like

  5. Matthew Whitticar says:

    I enjoyed the movie and really approached the lack of liberties.

    They even depicted Hammer using a correct Model 8.

    Like

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