Dark turns in Penn’s career
It’s hard to think of a director who changed the course of Hollywood films as much with one movie as Arthur Penn, who died Tuesday at 88. The film, of course, was 1967’s “Bonnie and Clyde,” which ushered in a tumultuous new era that brought us such landmark movies as “The Godfather,” “Chinatown,” “Taxi Driver,” “Shampoo” and “The French Connection” — all made by filmmakers whose career paths were given a huge boost by Penn’s unlikely success.
Of course, the dirty little secret about Penn’s own career path was that he was given the bum’s rush over and over by the barons of the movie business. Few filmmakers of Penn’s stature have been treated as badly as he was, both during his ascent and his decline.
After having success in the theater and on television, where he directed nearly 40 episodes of live TV during the 1950s, Penn came to Hollywood to make “The Left-Handed Gun” at Warner Bros., with Paul Newman in the starring role as Billy the Kid with Freudian issues. Regarding Penn as some kind of pointy-headed East Coast intellectual, Jack Warner sent Penn packing as soon as the director had
DIRECTOR: Penn made ’67’s “Bonnie and Clyde.”