Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are two of the most beloved and notorious criminals in the world. They met, fell in love, and embarked on a two year crime spree, robbing banks at gun point. The public's perception of them and their crimes has been largely shaped by the film Bonnie and Clyde. Arthur Penn, the director of the film, had to make certain decisions and alterations in order to better control how the story was told and received, and as a result of this, the lives of Bonnie and Clyde were both simplified and exaggerated in the film.
One of the most important aspects of any story is character development. In the case of Bonnie and Clyde, most of the secondary characters are portrayed as accurately as possible; however, some changes were made, to keep the film exciting and also convey the emotions and ideas that scenes are trying to get across. Also, some characters had to be simplified or altered to make the story easier to tell. For example, the character of C.W. Moss in the film is actually a combination of the real life Barrow gang members W.D. Jones and Henry Merthin. In real life, W.D. Jones was the baby faced gas station attendant that ran with the Barrow gang. His involvement was short-lived, however, and he was later jailed and then broken out of jail by Clyde. It was Henry Merthin's father, Ivan, who betrayed Bonnie and Clyde in real life, in exchange for an easier sentencing and punishment for his son (Nash 250).
The characters of Bonnie and Clyde were very minimally altered, and when they were it was usually because characters in films have to be simpler so that they are more effective. One small change was that in real life, Clyde asked a fellow inmate to cut off two of his toes to avoid doing extra work while in prison. In the film, he says that he cut off his own toes (Dirks). The real life Bonnie was married to Roy Thorton before she met Clyde, a fact that the film ignores.