Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 1968
Directed by
George Roy Hill
110 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid

Released the same year as The Wild Bunch and two years after Bonnie And Clyde, George Roy Hill’s comedy Western was a good deal lighter in tone than those films but it shared with them a discernible fatalistic mood and a fascination with the demise of the freewheeling (anti-)hero in the face of burgeoning social order.

Paul Newman and Robert Redford play the titular heroes, two glad-handed bank robbers who are forced by the changing times to head to Bolivia to ply their craft. Scriptwriter William Goldman builds into the main story a sub-plot in the relation between the two men and a common love interest, Etta Place (Katharine Ross, an actress whose film career had gotten a kick-start with The Graduate in 1967, but who never made another major film and who largely worked in television thereafter including a 1976 sequel of sorts, Wanted: The Sundance Woman).

If not as critically admired or as historically significant as the Peckinpah and Penn movies mentioned, the film was a huge commercial success, grossing nearly $100 million (a huge amount at that time) and winning Oscars for its cinematography, score, original screenplay and the hit Burt Bacharach/B.J. Thomas song “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”.

Newman (who co-produced) and Redford in his first major role were well cast as the genial rogues (Newman was originally supposed to take the Sundance role opposite Steve McQueen but Hill switched parts and McQueen dropped out, Redford coming in when Warren Beatty turned down the role), Goldman’s screenplay was witty and economical (although the Etta Place character is unsatisfyingly peripheral and the Jules and Jim-like dramatic potential of this aspect of the film is not realized) and Hill, who would have another huge hit with the Newman-Redford pairing in 1973 with The Sting, provides seamless direction, his cinematic skill most apparent in the pursuit section of the film where plotwise little transpires but tension builds as the distance between hunters and hunted reduces. He also cleverly imbues the film with a light-hearted spirit (as for example when Percy Helton's Sweetface is seen to reveal Butch and Sundance hiding out in the bordello).

Whilst some may disavow the film's determinedly amoral, blithely romanticizing treatment, particularly in the Bolivian section when the men are presumably robbing the savings of poor farmers, Hill carries it off with aplomb.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst