Monday, March 15, 2010

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy: Alright. I'll jump first.
Sundance Kid: No.
Butch Cassidy: Then you jump first.
Sundance Kid: No, I said.
Butch Cassidy: What's the matter with you?
Sundance Kid: I can't swim.
Butch Cassidy: Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill you.
Sundance Kid: Oh, shit...

While this film never pops to the top of my head when I think of westerns, this is a solid, wonderful, and fun film. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a 1969 western, staring Paul Newman and Robert Redford as Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid respectively. The movie was directed by George Roy Hill who went on to direct The Sting and Slaughterhouse-Five.

My favorite westerns are no secret. Sergio Leone's Man with No Name trilogy, which includes A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly are always top picks, as well as the crowning achievement, Once Upon a Time in the West. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid certainly ranks up there with the best of them even if the film wasn't shot in Spain and directed by an Italian.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is about two bandits, the namesakes of the film, who are out to score big by way of armed robbery. Butch is called out by one of his Hole in the Wall Gang members, but not only beats this hapless member, but takes his advice on a few additional jobs. The second job backfires, and Butch and Sundance are now on the run. They decide that the best place to go is far away Bolivia, which is like somewhere in Central America or something (little do they know...). Soon they become not just American outlaws, but International ones.

My father told me a story about the first time he saw this film when it first premiered. In the row in front of him, he remembers hearing a distraught person who exclaimed that they didn't know the movie would be in Black and White. The entire first scene is in sepia for 6 minutes.

This film is much more light-hearted than many westerns out there. The film is wonderful and perfect escapism. The leads, Paul Newman and Robert Redford, play off each other perfectly. The soundtrack is perfect. "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head"? Brilliant! That made the scene. The ending to this film is one of the most memorable ever on screen.


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