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'Bonnie and Clyde' director Arthur Penn dies at 88

American film and stage director Arthur Penn left his mark on American cinema in 1967 with "Bonnie and Clyde", an edgy take on the legendary depression-era outlaws, starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. He died in New York on Wednesday aged 88.

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AFP - American film and stage director Arthur Penn, best known for his revolutionary 1967 movie "Bonnie and Clyde," has died, a friend of the filmmaker told AFP Wednesday. He was 88.

"He died Tuesday night here in New York," said Evan Bell, a friend and financial advisor to Penn, without giving any further details.

Penn, who pioneered live television drama in the 1950s, left an indelible mark on American cinema with the film in which he directed Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the legendary Depression-era outlaws.

Despite being laced with comic moments, the film was more sexually explicit and blood-soaked then those usually screened in the United States at the time and broke many taboos.

Although it was panned by some shocked critics, "Bonnie and Clyde" went on to win two Oscars and is now seen as a landmark film, paving the way for a new wave of gritty movies, such as "The Graduate" and "Easy Rider," and a new generation of directors such as Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese.

Penn may also have helped shape America's history, the New York Times said, describing how he directed John F. Kennedy in the 1960 television debates with Richard Nixon, which helped propel the young senator into the White House.

After the success of "Bonnie and Clyde," Penn went on to direct several more movies including "Little Big Man" in 1970 starring Dustin Hoffman and "Night Moves" with Gene Hackman in 1975.

In later years, he turned to television dramas directing several episodes of "Law and Order."

During his long career, Penn was nominated for many awards including three Oscars for "Bonnie and Clyde," "Alice's Restaurant" and "The Miracle Worker."

He is survived by his wife, two children and four grandchildren.
 

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