From The New York Times
By Christian Patterson and Luc Sante
A boy, a girl, a car, and a gun. The formula lies deep in American mythology. Imagine the appeal: you and your love object are desperadoes on the run, death the only possible outcome. It’s a suicide mission, the sort of fantasy that emerges when people are trapped. To go on the run is to chase the dragon of some other life, in full knowledge of the futility of the effort and the inevitability of the end. With sex, speed and ballistics stirred together, you simply have to accept that you will explode.
The formula was already traditional by the time Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate hit the road in 1958. Its principles were established by Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow before they were gunned down in 1934. They were accomplices, not a couple, but they were married in blood — Bonnie took 23 bullets and Clyde 25. The cultural echoes began soon: Edward Anderson’s novel “Thieves Like Us” and Fritz Lang’s film “You Only Live Once,” both 1937. After the war, Mr. Anderson’s novel was filmed by Nicholas Ray as “They Live by Night” (1949) and Joseph H. Lewis made “Gun Crazy” (1950), another variation on the theme.