'Bonnie and Clyde' not up to the hype.

Byline: David Wiegand

"The story of Bonnie and Clyde/Their names are remembered as one.''

The lyric from the old song by Flatt and Scruggs was accurate even before the murderous pair died in storm of bullets in 1934 and is still accurate today. There's a moment in the new two-part TV film about the duo when Clyde Barrow makes a halfhearted bid for top billing, but we know Bonnie Parker got her way.

The TV film "Bonnie and Clyde,'' starring Emile Hirsch ("Into the Wild'') and Holliday Grainger ("The Borgias''), is directed by Bruce Beresford ("Breaker Morant'') and airs Sunday and Monday on three channels at the same time: Lifetime, the History Channel and A&E. There's no reason for anything to air on multiple channels at the same time, especially with the ubiquity of DVRs, but the gimmick is meant to pump "Bonnie and Clyde'' up to "TV event'' status.

It doesn't even begin to qualify as that, but it has its moments.

Parker met Barrow in Texas when they were barely out of their teens. She had a passion for writing doggerel poetry and aspired to be a Hollywood actress. He had racked up a string of relatively minor crimes that got him sent to prison, where he killed a fellow inmate who had repeatedly raped him.

Their crime spree lasted only two years, but Parker and Barrow were quickly mythologized by the press, much as other outlaws became objects of fascination for the Depression-era public. But if some people thought of Bonnie and Clyde as two kids on a bank-robbing lark, defying the economic hard times of the '30s, public attitude shifted as innocent people began to get killed.

You can't tell the story of Bonnie and Clyde without mythology, but apparently, you can tell it superficially if you subject it to Beresford's sometimes goofy direction and a just adequate script by Joe Batteer and John Rice. The obvious parts of the mythology are here, including Bonnie posing with a cigar in her mouth and her foot perched on a car bumper, and the sensationalism that marked so much of the contemporary press coverage of the pair.

But then we get these wacky flourishes from Beresford that seem meant to dump a load of supernatural fatalism on the tale. Clyde, known to his mother (Dale Dickey, "True Blood'') as her "little...

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