Few outlaws of the twentieth century were mythologized like Bonnie and Clyde. Blame it on the doomed young love story, or Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, or maybe on Jay-Z and Beyoncé, but the romantic outlaws live on 80 years after their death.
The true story of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, though, has some dark moments that are harder to romanticize than a gang of young people living by their own rules.
In Tuesday night’s installment from PBS’ American Experience, Bonnie and Clyde’s full story is told without the rose-colored glasses. Some of the gruesome details include the circumstances of Barrow’s early incarceration at the Eastham Prison Farm in Houston County—years before he met Parker—and the brutal descriptions of his encounters with another inmate. That encounter led to Barrow’s first murder, and they help explain both the conditions of prisons in the early part of the twentieth century and the things that happened in Barrow’s life that led a poor kid from East Texas to head a wild crime spree throughout the Midwest.
In the clip below from the documentary, learn some of the horrific details. The clip is safe for work, but doesn’t shy away from discussing hard-to-watch subjects like prison rape and brutal murder, so sensitive viewers should exercise caution.
Catch Bonnie & Clyde when it premieres Tuesday night at 9 p.m.