Arthur Penn, who passed away last week at the age of 88, was an actor’s director and a triple threat with hits on television, the stage, and the big screen — most notably, 1967’s revolutionary Bonnie and Clyde. At a time when Hollywood was losing touch with audiences (especially younger ones), Penn’s steamy, bullet-riddled gangster movie not only pushed the envelope of sex and violence on screen, it ripped that envelope to shreds, ushering in a new, maverick era that blossomed in the ’70s. EW takes a look at some of Penn’s most memorable films.
The Miracle Worker (1962)
He’d already helmed award-winning TV and Broadway versions of the tale, and here he captured the haunting darkness and silence of Helen Keller’s world. The film snagged Oscars for its two stars, Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
This is how the golden age of ’70s cinema began: with a pair of beautiful, doomed bank robbers (Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway), a giddy Depression-era crime spree, and a final-reel hail of bullets that left moviegoers gasping. A masterpiece.
Alice’s Restaurant (1969)
Penn took folkie troubadour Arlo (son of Woody) Guthrie’s epic-length song and transformed it into a playful, ambling love letter to the Woodstock generation. A freak-flag-flying time capsule of a bygone blissed-out era.
Little Big Man (1970)
Early in his career, Penn studied at New York City’s famed Actors Studio. And he got a young Dustin Hoffman (another Actors Studio alum) to dig deep as Jack Crabb, a 120-year-old man who may or may not have been the sole survivor of Custer’s Last Stand.
Night Moves (1975)
Proving he was at home in any genre, Penn tackled film noir and nailed it, aided by a terrifically ambiguous turn from Gene Hackman as a private eye in the Florida Keys. An underappreciated gem ripe for rediscovery. Keep your eyes peeled for a young Melanie Griffith.
The Missouri Breaks (1976)
Reuniting with Marlon Brando after 1966’s The Chase, Penn coaxed a deliciously daffy performance from the Method madman (and his costar Jack Nicholson, as a crusty horse thief) in this insane and insanely enjoyable Western.