The Barrow Gang Put the Fear of God in Their Captives
In the 1967 film, the Barrow Gang members are depicted as a bunch of fun-loving hicks who were so pure of heart that they even charmed the socks off their kidnap victims. For instance, in one scene, the gang is shown picking up a young couple for a joy ride, who at first are frightened out of their wits but eventually warm up to everyone, even going so far as to start yukking it up over hamburgers.
Wow! What a great, fun-loving gang! Not! In reality, abducted victims of the Barrow Gang were absolutely scared shitless and spent their entire ordeal wondering whether they would make it out alive. Some did mention that Clyde and the others would laugh and joke during their abductions, but hardly in the positive sense in the movie.
For instance, according to the real-life man and woman who were kidnapped–H. Dillard Darby and Sophia Stone Cook– Bonnie, Clyde and the others would issue threats one moment and joke and laugh the next, which made the frivolity all the more unsettling, since it made them incredibly unpredictable. At no time were they endeared by the Barrow Gang; they spent their entire ride expecting to never come out of it alive.
Seasoned LEOs were no less terrified, as Clyde had established himself as a criminal for whom cop killing came easy, but also seemed to kill based on a whim. Whether he would kill an LEO or grant mercy was anyone’s guess; in one case, he told a pair of officers that he would let them go because they helped Bonnie when she became injured. This was after Buck had casually asked his brother in front of the two frightened men if he wanted them killed. In other cases, when Clyde or other members of the Barrow Gang were feeling flighty, LEOs would be immediately gunned down without even so much as drawing a weapon.
In short, the image presented in Arthur Penn’s movie–of abductees getting so charmed by Bonnie and Clyde that they found getting kidnapped just a barrel of laughs–was not only false, but patently offensive. No one was charmed, but absolutely terrified.