The Story of Pretty Boy Floyd (Crime, Biography) ABC Movie of the Week – 1974

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Airdate: May 7, 1974
Genre: Crime, Biography

Logline: A humanistic account of “the Robin Hood of the Cookson Hills”, in which Charles Floyd is portrayed as a decent man who has a strong sense of family and duty.

A biography of the notorious bank robber, worth seeing the performance of Martin Sheen as the good-looking criminal-of-the-people. Sheen has charm, and the camera loves his boyish looks. But the film elides swathes of Floyd’s career in order to maintain the runtime of a Movie of the Week, making episodic Cliffs Notes of a complicated life story. Despite the number of innocent lives this criminal has taken, Floyd is depicted as an everyman’s folk hero who destroys mortgages at the banks he robs to give relief to the unfortunate, even though it has never been established whether this was fact or urban legend. Floyd was a career criminal who refused to scrabble through the most destitute period of the Twentieth Century. It was his willingness to kill lawmen that sealed his fate and resulted in the manhunt led by Melvin Purvis that killed him in 1934. Still, the film humanizes him and details his personal relationships, including his long-suffering wife, played by Kim Darby. The man was complicated enough to warrant a biography, which would take much longer than the scant 73 minutes allotted here. A fascinating figure, and this attempt at capturing his entire essence falls incomplete.


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