Should I start this post by ticking everyone off or should I start out by reviewing the 1969 best picture nominee Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid?
Let’s do the review first. I recently watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when it aired as a part of TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar. This was actually my third time to see the film on TCM. And, as I watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for the third time, I was shocked to discover how much I had forgotten about the film.
Don’t get me wrong. I remembered that it was a western and that it starred Paul Newman and Robert Redford as real-life outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I remembered that it opened and ended with sepia-toned sequences that suggested that Butch and Sundance represented the last gasp of the old west. I remembered that Butch won a fight by kicking a man in the balls. I also remembered that they robbed the same train twice and, the second time, they accidentally used too much dynamite. I remembered that, for some reason, Butch spent a lot of time riding around on a bicycle. I remembered that Butch and Sundance ended up getting chased by a mysterious posse. I remembered that Sundance could not swim. And I remembered that the film eventually ended on a tragic note in South America…
And I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, “It sounds like you remembered the whole movie, Lisa!”
No, actually I did not. The thing with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is that the scenes that work are so memorable that it’s easy to forget that there’s also a lot of scenes that aren’t as memorable. These are the scenes where the film drags and you’re thankful that Paul Newman and Robert Redford were cast as Butch and Sundance, because their charisma helps you overlook a lot of scenes that are either too heavy-handed or which drag on for too long. You’re especially thankful for Newman, who plays every scene with a twinkle in his wonderful blue eyes and who is such a lively presence that it makes up for the fact that Redford’s performance occasionally crosses over from being stoic to wooden. It can be argued that there’s no logical reason for a western to feature an outlaw riding around on a bicycle while Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head plays on the soundtrack but Paul Newman’s so much fun to watch that you can forgive the film.
Newman and Redford both have so much chemistry that they’re always a joy to watch. And really, that’s the whole appeal of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the chance to watch two iconic actors have fun playing opposite each other. Even though Katharine Ross appears as their shared romantic interest, the film’s love story is ultimately between Butch and Sundance (and, by extension, Newman and Redford). You can find countless reviews that will give all the credit for the film’s appeal to William Goldman’s screenplay. (You can also find countless self-satisfied essays by William Goldman where he does the exact same thing.) But, honestly, the film’s screenplay is nothing special. This film works because of good, old-fashioned star power.
Now, for the part that’ll probably tick everyone off (heh heh), I think that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is actually a pretty good pick for a future remake. All you have to do is pick the right actors for Butch and Sundance. I’m thinking Chris Pratt as Butch and Chris Evans as Sundance…
Oh, c’mon! It’ll be great!