Director Arthur Penn, whose Bonnie and Clyde energized the counterculture and kick-started the era of the “Movie Brats,” died Tuesday in New York of congestive heart failure. He was 88.
Penn’s first major feature was 1958’s The Left Handed Gun, starring Paul Newman as Billy the Kid. His breakout effort was in 1962, with the twice-Oscar nominated The Miracle Worker, a dramatic retelling of Helen Keller’s formative experiences. However, he moved into more artistic territory with 1965’s offbeat Mickey One, starring Warren Beatty. In 1967, Penn and Beatty took the cinematic world by storm with the violent, incendiary Bonnie and Clyde, a tale of two outlaws on the run that became a sensation with the public and initiated what film historians refer to as the New Hollywood.
Penn followed that success with the hippie manifesto Alice’s Restaurant, a Gonzo take on the Arlo Guthrie song, and Little Big Man, starring Dustin Hoffman as a white man living within the Cheyenne Indians in the old West. In 1975, he teamed with Gene Hackman in the sinister neo-noir Night Moves. If his critical success abated at the end of the 1970s, Penn continued to work in both film and television, and was an executive producer on NBC’s Law & Order.
Penn is survived by Peggy Maurer, his wife of 55 years, and two children.
For more on the career of Arthur Penn, go to his complete RT filmography page here.