March 16, 2014 · Print This Article

This is perhaps the last really famous western I have yet to see, BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID [1969]. Thanks to a Netflix recommendation and recently watching Robert Redford in ALL IS LOST [2013], and a Sunday afternoon sports doldrum, I finally remedied that. It was both what I expected and not. I thought it would have a playful feel to it, which it did. I did not expect it to also feel so continuously tense and feel epic in nature.

There is almost no in movie exposition about these two historical figures other than a couple of montage scenes showing old tin type photos. As the movie portrayed it, they did not even know each other’s real names most of the time nor anything about where they grew up. I can actually understand that though. I am not really interested in such things when I meet and hang out with people either.

As one man describes them, Butch is the most affable person around, and Sundance is the fastest gun. Their train robberies are very PG rated operations with a sort of whimsy about them. The problem for Butch & Sundance though, is that those on the other side, they are very R rated in their intent to stop them. The rich owner of Pacific Rail finally has enough and hires a posse consisting of the best lawman in the country and the best tracker in the country. I was surprised that a majority of the movie is this posse chasing the duo all over open territory. What I really liked is we never seen the posse up close, they are always just in the distance, as Butch & Sundance see them, so we share that feeling of unknowing menace. This was the best element of the movie.

Eventually Butch, the idea man, has him, Sundance and Sundance’s girl all make for Bolivia to lay low as it were for them. This means bank robberies continue. Here is where I did not get why they would continue to be so greedy and brazen. They are the only three white people around and as conspicuous as can be. Even after their wanted poster is all over the place, “Banditos Yankees,” they continue eating meals in public, etc. They had plenty of money, I can guess they only did it because they liked it and the danger and accepted the huge risk.

The score was pretty good, but the use of a few songs in the movie was a misstep to me, especially “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head.” That seemed totally out of place and took me out of the time period.

At least the fates of Butch and Sundance played true to the lives they led. When things really started to close in on them, neither of them started to get mushy eyed and say they loved each other or any of that, they kept their rapport to the end.


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