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The true story of Netflix's The Highwaymen, the Texas Rangers who killed Bonnie and Clyde.

From 1930 to 1934, the city of Texas was plagued by the crimes of Bonnie Elizabeth Parker, Clyde Chestnut Barrow and their small group of criminal associates, known as the Barrow Gang.

By 1934 – which would ultimately be the year of their death, Bonnie and Clyde were believed to have committed 13 murders as well as over a dozen bank robberies and several burglaries.

Now, the story of how they were killed at the hands of two Texas rangers is the subject of Netflix’s film The Highwaymen.

Starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson, the new film follows Frank Hamer and Maney Gault’s operation to end Bonnie and Clyde’s long running crime spree.

Watch the trailer for Netflix’s The Highwaymen here. Post continues below…

Video by Netflix

Whether you’ve watched the film or not, this is the true story behind the operation which saw the end of one of America’s most popularised crime couples.

Who were Frank Hamer and Maney Gault?

After prison officer Major Joe Crowson died when the Barrow Gang orchestrated the escape of multiple criminals in the January 1934 Eastham Breakout, the Texan authorities vowed to capture and kill those involved.

Initially there was apprehension among some officials who were against killing a woman, which was a major taboo at the time among law enforcement, however Texas’ first female governor, Miriam “Ma” Ferguson and Texas Department of Corrections chief Lee Simmons eventually persuaded Hamer to take the job as a contract Highway Patrol officer. To form his team, Hamer brought on Gault and Bob Alcorn, Ted Hinton, Prentiss Oakley and Henderson Jordan.

Before being commissioned to hunt down Bonnie and Clyde, Hamer and Gault were already acquaintances. Years before reuniting to take down the Barrow Gang, the pair were neighbours in the Riverside area of Austin.

Although very few details of Hamer and Gault’s operation exist, it’s believed the pair travelled for up to 500 miles a day while living off a basic diet of crackers and sardines.

Throughout the operation, the two rangers stalked Bonnie and Clyde for 102 days across 15 states until they finally came face to face with the infamous couple.

Although Hamer and Gault were lauded as heroes among Texans following the takedown of Bonnie and Clyde, they turned down dozens of movie and book offers, choosing to avoid the fame that Bonnie and Clyde had revelled in.

“They made a pact that none of them would talk after that because killing a woman was a hard thing to deal with,” Kevin Costner, who played Hamer in the film, told Fandango.

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bonnie and clyde
These are the men behind the death of Bonnie and Clyde. Image: Getty.

In 1947, Gault passed away.

"He was as loyal a man as there ever could be. Never a better man or truer friend than Maney Gault," Hamer said at his funeral.

Several years later, in 1955, Hamer passed away.

How did Bonnie and Clyde die?

On May 23, 1934, six police officers – including Hamer and Gault – set up an ambush on a rural road in Louisiana. The officers had convinced a relative of the Barrow Gang to pretend his car had broken down on the side of the road.

Hiding in the bushes with their guns ready, the rangers waited until they heard Bonnie and Clyde's stolen Ford V8 approach and stop to help their stranded relative.

Together, Hamer's team fired an estimated 150 shots at the Ford V8, killing Clyde instantly and Bonnie seconds after.

Even after the couple were dead, one of the officers continued to fire a series of shots through the vehicle's window.

bonnie and clyde
Bonnie and Clyde. Image: Getty.

"I wanted the audience to see that this is brutal. This is violent, overkill," The Highwaymen director John Lee Hancock told USA Today.

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"Once those guys started firing, they were not going to stop until their guns were empty."

Following their death, hundreds of people came to the scene where the infamous pair were killed. While some people cut away parts of Bonnie's dress and locks of her hair, others attempted to cut off Clyde's trigger finger and even his ear.

The couple's bullet-ridden stolen car also became a tourist attraction. As it travelled around the country, it was often seen surrounded by a mob of people.

How accurate are the events portrayed The Highwaymen?

In The Highwaymen, Hamer and Gault are shown experiencing a number of frustrating near-misses in the hunt for the couple.

In real life, however, the fatal ambush was the first time they have ever caught up to the couple.

The death scene in The Highwaymen was actually filmed in the exact same sport where the ambush occurred in 1934.

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Woody Harrelson and Kevin Costner in The Highwaymen. Image: Netflix.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Costner described shooting the ambush scene as a "haunting" experience.

“It really affected me,” Costner said. “Every time I did the scene, and I’d see that car coming I’d go, There was a day in 1934 when those two outlaws came around that bend. Forty seconds and they were gone. That haunted me a little bit, thinking about that.”

“It was really kind of startling,” Harrelson added. "It was like, man, what we’re about to do, actually happened. It put you in the mindset of what these guys were thinking. I remember, as that car was coming, when we were back behind that hedge, the feeling was, Oh my god, here they come! It just felt so real.”

Have you watched Netflix's The Highwaymen? What did you think of it? Tell us in a comment below.

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