Movie Name: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date(s): October 24, 1969
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Butch (Paul Newman) and Sundance (Robert Redford) have met their match. When the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang becomes too much trouble for the railroad company, an elite group of bounty hunters are sent to stop them. Butch and Sundance are now on the run and travelling to South America with Sundance’s girlfriend Etta Place (Katharine Ross), but trouble seems to find Butch and Sundance no matter where they go.
Directed by George Roy, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a Western action-romance. The movie was well received by critics and a box office success. The film won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Song (“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”), and Best Original Screenplay with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Sound. The movie was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2003.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was a bit polarizing in some critics eyes when it was released. Opposed to the classic John Wayne type Western where the cowboy is rough and tumble, Butch and Sundance were light, laughable, and lovable. It is this weird balance of humor and action that works to make Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid a movie that has staying power.
The smart script of the movie really played with the format of a Western. Butch and Sundance aren’t shown as very competent robbers through most of the film (though they must have been) and the heavy (but odd) almost three way romance between Butch, Sundance, and Etta is unusual for the genre. The final showdown at the end of the film is a classic and fits in with other westerns being produced at the time (like Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch…which ironically led to a change for the movie since that was the real name for the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang).
The charm of Paul Newman and Robert Redford help keep the movie alive. Their interaction is perfect and it is hard to imagine that it wasn’t the plan. Dustin Hoffman was considered for Butch and Steve McQueen dropped out as Sundance (leading to the title change from The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy). Katharine Ross also is nice as the romantic interest, and Sam Elliot made his film debut in a small role as a card player.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a Western for those who don’t like Westerns. It is light and fun but still has a lot of action that can keep a large audience engaged. The movie was part of a new wave of Westerns that weren’t like the John Wayne Westerns…and that was a fun change for the genre. A “prequel” was made in 1979 called Butch and Sundance: The Early Days starring Tom Berenger and William Katt.
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