“Kid, the next time I say, “Let’s go someplace like Bolivia”, let’s GO someplace like Bolivia!”
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is an American western film directed by George Roy Hill, produced by John Foreman, and written by William Goldman. The film stars Paul Newman (as Cassidy), Robert Redford (as Sundance), and Katharine Ross, with Strother Martin, Henry Jones, Jeff Corey, George Furth, and Cloris Leachman. (Running Time: 112 minutes)(Rated PG)
Based loosely on the fact, the film tells the story of Wild West outlaws Butch Cassidy and his partner the Sundance Kid as they migrate to Bolivia while on the run from the law in search of a more successful criminal career.
I’ll be direct up front: one of the greatest motion pictures ever made. It is justly hailed as one of the greatest westerns ever made–even though most of it takes place in South America.
The first, and perhaps the biggest factor that you gotta love about this movie is the two bandits, Butch and the Kid. When this movie was being made, Paul Newman and Robert Redford formed a close friendship that lasted for decades, until Paul’s passing in 2008. I believe their friendship shows with their on-camera chemistry. The movie is not settled on the plot, but the relationship of these two outlaws and their witty, sometimes down-to-earth conversations about life and robberies. Originally, Steve McQueen was tapped to play Butch and Newman was to play Sundance–thank goodness it did not turn out that way! I just cannot see anyone else playing either or role. They fit their parts perfectly, and play them equally well.
As a side note to the last paragraph, I love the pair-up of Paul and Bob just as much in the movie The Sting (1973). There was talks for years about them doing a third movie–and coming close to playing brothers in Secondhand Lions (2003), but unfortunately, that never happened. Nevertheless, they kept a close-knit relationship off set, and I admire that. I said it before and I’ll say it again: their friendship shows on screen.
Outside of Katharine Ross’s role–which is well done, right beside the charismatic and cool performances of the two leads–the movie relays a lot on all the small parts. Almost too big for cameos, but way too small for official “parts”, it seems. The characters are goofy, sometimes real, and just add to the fun of the west.
Concerning the production’s beginning, William Goldman had originally run across the story of The Hole in the Wall Gang in the early 1950s, and began researching about the gang for years after. He eventually wrote an enormous screenplay which sold for a record (at the time) $400,000. After director George Roy Hill was assigned, settling on the two leads proved to be the most difficult challenge, with names like Jack Lemmon, Marlon Brando, and most especially Steve McQueen coming into the mix. After some serious filming in Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico, they had captured the images of a true American masterpiece!
Conrad L. Hall is probably one of my favorite cinematographers. His lighting and camerawork have been so innovative, and the style is so tasteful and fulfilling. This movie is on one of my top shelves for camerawork. But that was not just the only innovative aspect of this movie. What about Burt Bacharach’s score? And Hal David’s “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”? Who would have ever thought writing a song like that for a western?
There is a huge history to this film that I will not go into today. Lucky for us, the United States National Film Registry decided in 2003 to preserve this film, being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant”. It is that among many other things.
The film was a huge success for its time, grossing over $100 million at the box office, making it the biggest score for the movies in 1969–and adjusted for inflation–one of the 100 top grossing movies in America. It was also nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning four for: Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. It was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Sound. I think it was snubbed of the last three. Shame on the Academy…
6 out of 7 stars. Definitely. One of the best westerns–and maybe best movie–in existence. Highly, highly recommended! They should be showing this film in schools!
Also, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is probably one of the most quotable films out there!
“You just keep talkin’, Butch. That’s what you’re good at.”