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cassidy-sundance

BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969)

The lives of legendary outlaws Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) are retold in this wildly popular western helmed by director George Roy Hill. Redford and Newman are at their charismatic best as they go from heist to heist, pursued by an implacable posse to the edge of a canyon and then to escape and dreams of an easier life in Bolivia, only to meet their glorious end in volleys of Spanish gunfire.

The dream cast includes: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katherine Ross, Strother Martin, Cloris Leachman, and Ted Cassidy.

#51 on the AFI Top 100.

BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID was nominated for the Best Picture award. Nominated for seven Academy Awards, it picked up four, for best cinematography, original score, music, and screenplay.

Director, George Roy Hill, with this audience-pleasing Western, delivered one of the great entertainment events of the late 60's. Hill received a nomination for best directing.

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Promotional Line: "You never met a pair like Butch and The Kid."

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The basic story involves two likable cowboy criminals, Butch Cassidy, a man of ideas, and the Sundance Kid, "all action and skill," who use their combined talents to make a living robbing banks and trains, with their "Hole in the Wall Gang." However the country where they operate is becoming civilized. After robbing a train, they find themselves being pursued by a tireless posse, forcing them to make a hasty retreat, accompanied by the woman they both love.

The film is a classic because of the great chemistry between the stars, the humor, the excellent photography, and the powerful ending. At a time when many Westerns were violent and depressing, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" took a lighter approach, with great success. "Butch Cassidy" won Oscars for Original Score (Burt Bacharach), and William Goldman's original screenplay, among others.

Key elements of the story, and its relationships, were quite similar to the classic French film, "Jules et Jim," (1961), a fact that was rarely commented on at the time. In Utah, there really was a Butch Cassidy, Sundance Kid, and The Hole in the Wall Gang, that hung out around the Moab area, who eventually did go to South America.

Their troubles begin when a hard-edged posse, lead by a tough lawman, with a terrific Indian tracker, hired by the railroad, start to pursue them after one of their robberies. After a harrowing chase, where they escape by the skin of their teeth, all three of them, Butch, Sundance and the woman they both love, Etta Gates (Katharine Ross), take a vacation, spending some of their ill -gotten funds, and then go to South America to work their trade in Bolivia, where various consequences await them there.

This wonderful screenplay was written by William Goldman, who won the Oscar for his efforts. Goldman also wrote many other wonderful scripts, such as "All the President's Men," "Marathon Man," and "Maverick."

The gifted direction was by George Roy Hill who "showed his flair for directing actors in breezy situations." Hill also directed "The World of Henry Orient," "Slaughterhouse-Five," "A Little Romance," "The Sting" (won an Oscar), and "The World According to Garp."

Paul Newman and Robert Redford are perfectly cast in the title roles. (Interestingly enough, Steve McQueen was almost cast as the Sundance kid.) Paul Newman is most convincing as the charming, easy-going Butch Cassidy, leader of the Hole in the Wall Gang, who realizes that they will no longer be able to make a living in Utah, by robbing trains. Redford plays the quick on the draw gunslinger, cohort in crime. Together they bring to life this marvelous screenplay.

Newman and Redford establish their characters' characteristics well in an early scene, where he is playing poker in a saloon. A fellow card player, not knowing who Sundance was, and what deadly talents he was gifted with, accuses him of cheating, inflaming Sundance. Butch Cassidy steps in and helps the accuser see the light with some clever dialogue, saving the man's life. Sundance was a bit psycho at times. This incident also shows Butch Cassidy as a basically decent, nice, thoughtful man, but who has chosen a life of crime nevertheless.

This winning combination of actors bought Director Hill, and stars, Redford and Newman, all together again later, reteamed for the equally classic film, "The Sting."

Cinematographer, Conrad Hall, did a fabulous job photographing this film. He won an Oscar for his fine work.

The film has some classic lines: when Redford reveals to Newman that he doesn't want to make the huge leap into a stream far below because he can't swim, Newman responds, laughing, "Hell, the fall will probably kill you." Then they leap, falling a great distance into the water.

The film offered an early music video: Newman and Ross cavorting on a bicycle as B.J. Thomas sings, "Raindrops Are Falling On My Head," which was very popular at the time.

Quotes between Butch and Sundance...
"Kid, there's something I ought to tell you. I never shot anybody before." Sundance: "One hell of a time to tell me."

If you enjoyed BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, you may like MAVERICK, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF, THE SKIN GAME, and/or CAT BALLOU.

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