09 February 2011

OMENS: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross. Written by William Goldman. Directed by George Roy Hill. Release: 23 September 1969. 20th Century Fox, 112 mins., Rated PG

Plot: Outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are pretty much wanted men in the US of A, so they plot to get outta Dodge to live a new life with similar effects.

My first Paul Newman film, my second Robert Redford film, and a flick I wasn't too keen on seeing due to the whole it being a western thing. That genre isn't at the top of categories I love. I checked it out for two reasons: 1) It leaves Netflix Streaming tonight, and 2) Nick gave a rather glowing review. Lo and behold, I friggin' loved BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, and might even entertain picking up the DVD sometime in the near future. It has remarkable rewatch value. The movie's strength and overall goodness comes from two areas: the chemistry between Newman and Redford and the genuinely written and hilarious dialogue.

The beautiful thing about Butch and Sundance is that they sincerely come across as two friends who have been together for awhile. They pretty much know what each other is thinking, they have their backs no matter what, and they even share the same gorgeous woman (Katahrine Ross, regulated to the sidelines but given a tremendously powerful speech about a hour in). When the two are in a gunfight, or when they're running for their lives from the relentless pursuit of the law, the friendship and comradery take front and center and the movie becomes so much more with it. Butch is the 'brains' of the operation, thinking things through, making intelligent guesses that usually end up being right; Sundance is the gunslinger, the dude who can shoot pretty much anything from a considerable distance, and doesn't sugarcoat his words. Together, they're a magnificent pair that is compelling and equally fun to watch.

Next to the friendship between Butch and Kid, the most remarkably (and dare I say surprisingly) strong element of the movie is the writing. Take a quick look at Wikiquote or YouTube and you'll find plenty of videos and transcripts of peoples favorite scenes and lines of dialogue because it's so flippin' fantastic. Want examples? The interaction between Butch, Sundance and the money guard on the train is priceless and just like a SNL skit, but better. The last two minutes of the movie - priceless, especially the final line.

And for anyone who read Nick's review, sorry for basically reiterating what he said, but the grainy traditional montage about a hour in connecting the two story threads was a huge "WTF?" moment and didn't really fit. Yes, it did callback to the rather creative beginning four-minute opening shot, but it just felt out of place in the style and tone of the film. Speaking about tone, direction by George Roy Hill is adequate with moments of a keen eye. As Butch and Sundance are running and running from the law in the mountains, there are some great shots that start as a close-up of the men on horses and we exit out as our antiheroes come in frame and continue runnin'. And the finale with (don't think I'm gonna spoil this one much) the battalion of Mexican soldiers readying to fire, nicely shot and edited to create tension.

BUTCH CASSIDY is also one of the few films that are considered "classics" that I actually love and live up to the hype [another one being SEVENTH SEAL - awesome]. As such, I would recommend anyone who hasn't had the chance to see it yet to do so relatively soon. It's a smart, fun, comedic, action-y movie. It doesn't feel like a product of 1969, and there's a sense of timelessness to it. The flick will still be great 20 years from now, with all the jokes hitting and the gunshots blaring.

So that means we should expect a remake announced in about three weeks, right?

Netflix Rating: Loved It


David Bishop said...

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is probably best not advertised as a 'western' just because it's so different. I saw it on Netflix when they first added it to instant, and liked it as well. It's worth noting that the writer, William Goldman also wrote the novel and screenplay for The Princess Bride.

Fletch said...

It seems as though Butch is the one flick from thr 60s (barely) that everyone can agree on. I saw it some time in the last year and felt the same way. The interplay between the stars (and our connection to these stars) stand out as the two biggest reasons for me - I'm apt to check out anything by them, which is something I can't say with many of their contemporaries that either died long ago or stopped being relevant long ago (Liz Taylor, for example).

As Nick did, you ought to check out The Sting, too. I didn't like ti quite as much as Butch, but it's pretty good and has some sweet music. Same director, too, if I recall correctly.

Andy the Time Lord said...

David - Yea, you're right. In fact, for the longest while the video store I work at had BUTCH classified under Comedy. It wasn't until before Christmastime it was moved to Western. I'm thinking perhaps I should just have a Goldman-athon, check out all the flicks he wrote scripts for. If BUTCH and BRIDE are any indication, I'm going to love everything else.

Fletch - I'm not exactly one who loves classics, but I also find myself more apt to check out Redford and Newman now, especially, as you mentioned, THE STING. It's Streaming, so that makes me a bit giddy.