Thomasine & Bushrod, proclaimed as “black precursors to Bonnie & Clyde” are two complex individuals of different genders whose relationship is equally fractious and romantic.  For much of the movie they are seen as fugitives, fleeing from the law and various enemies in the old West. After they steal an early automobile (which somehow never needs fuel or repairs) from a wealthy banker, they use it as a getaway car to embark upon a string of bank robberies characterized by giving away much of the money to others, Robin Hood style. Thomasine complains that though this makes them “Known to have many friends among Indians, Mexicans, Poor Whites, and Other Colored People”, (as stated on their Wanted poster) showing a Catholic sympathy for the disenfranchised, they need to keep enough for themselves to have a house and furnish it.  Though they are seen to bicker, they eventually produce a new life, which Blackford warms up to after Thomasine breaks the news.  Had they made some different choices and lived under other circumstances, they might have had benefit of clergy and remained in legitimate professions, and met with the official Catholic seal of approval (Thomasine is determined to keep the baby and properly provide for it).  Thomasine & Blackford deals with complex themes, including a socio-economic order which is a stacked deck against the principal characters, and strong women in a patriarchal society. (Thomasine is not merely the smarter and more ambitious of the pair, they have a portrait taken in a photography studio owned and/or run by a woman at a time when relatively few women had legitimate jobs.) The Catholic Church was definitely available in at least one area they frequented. On one occasion, a mission-style church building was seen, adobe or stucco construction with a befry with a large bell.  Thomasine is captured, and Bushrod gets the information that she is “tied up in the confessional”.  Bushrod rides to the rescue, and their pursuers, hanging around outside the church, have two figures in long black-and-white traditional nuns’ habits with the veils uncharacteristically thrown across their faces, walk right by them.  The pair approach and seat themselves in the getaway car, and one throws back the veil to reveal his male mustachioed face, and then the other reveals a familiar visage as well; it is Bushrod and Thomasine, and they drive safely away, to presumably discard the nuns’ habits later.

(Anybody have a picture of this? None are available online, and I’d love to place a still image or a short video of it in this space.)

Though much is made in the beginning of the fact that Thomasine’s background and parentage is highly uncertain, the fact that a young mixed-race women has a name like Thomasine suggests that she may have been at least baptized if not raised Catholic.



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