Reclaiming the American gangster movie after it had been stolen by the Nouvelle Vague, Penn's film was so successful (and so imitated) that it inevitably met with some grudging devaluation. But it's still great: half comic fairytale, half brutal fact, it reflects the essential ambiguity of its heroes (faithfully copied from history and the real-life Barrow gang which terrorised the American South in the early '30s) by treading a no man's land suspended between reality and fantasy. With its weird landscape of dusty, derelict towns and verdant highways, stunningly shot by Burnett Guffey in muted tones of green and gold, it has the true quality of folk legend.
Cast and crew
Michael J Pollard