'Bonnie and Clyde' Writer Says Movies Don't Deserve Blame for Gun Violence (Video)

Last Friday at the TCM Film Festival in Hollywood, I conducted an in-depth interview with the legendary writer-director Robert Benton, a three-time Oscar winner whose first film credit was for co-writing, with David Newman, the now-classic Bonnie and Clyde (1967). In light of the recent gun rampages at a political gathering Tucson, Ariz., a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., and an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and the fact that some have blamed them, in part, on the depiction of guns in the movies, I asked Benton whether he felt that films like Bonnie and Clyde -- one of the first released after the fall of the industry's longstanding Hays Code of censorship and consequently one of the first to get away with graphically gun violence -- are in any way responsible for tragedies of this sort.

Benton's response (which you can also watch for yourself in the video excerpt of our interview at the top of this post):

"Do you really, after seeing this movie, want to go out and be a gangster? Do you really think they had a great life? Is that something you'd choose for your child to do? I don't think so.

"The Senate is responsible. The House is responsible. The fact that the Congress is in the hands of -- being paid by -- gun lobbyists. No. They want to blame it on us. But let's look at the NRA or the weapons manufacturers. Ordinary people should not be able to buy a gun that the police can't have; and I don't believe the police should have them.

"Maybe I have a vested interest, but no, I really don't believe that violence [is caused by the movies]. I think what these movies talked about is the fact that America is a violent country. It just is. Violence runs like a bloodline through this country, from its inception until now. I wish it weren't so, but it seems to me to be a part of us. I don't know anything to correct it, and I don't think violent movies glorify violence at all."

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