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Wick's Review

Created Mar 27, 2014 02:50AM PST • Edited Dec 07, 2019 08:29AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Perfect 5.0

    The Old West ended when Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hightailed it to Bolivia. Old Westerns ended when Paul Newman and Robert Redford became Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, outlaw charmers the likes of which the Silver Screen had never seen before. Four Oscars plus three additional nominations followed, as has Hollywood immortality. Indeed, this combination Buddy Movie / Western / Romantic Comedy remains profoundly charming today, nearly half a century after it raided the box office.

    Paul Newman was already a big star. Robert Redford wasn’t and almost didn’t get the Sundance Kid role. Both were superstars after the movie premiered, morphing into Hollywood’s first superstar buddy combo. They then reprised their combined charisma four years later in The Sting, to even greater acclaim. Wow.

    One Oscar went for William Goldman’s Best Screenplay, which announces itself in droll perfection with a title card at the start of the movie.

    Most of what follows is true.

    Burt Bacharach & Hal David earned another Oscar for Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head, which B.J. Thomas sings during a legendary musical interlude involving Paul Newman doing bicycle tricks for the entertainment of a deliciously delighted Katherine Ross. Movie magic gets no more bewitching.

    Conrad L. Hall was the final member of the crew to win an Oscar, for Cinematography. Director George Roy Hill and producer John Foreman were merely nominated. Together they beautifully captured the Hole-in-the-Wall and other stunning Western locales and vistas, along with credible Latin American settings.

    The stars received no nominations, their genial performances not being the kind venerated by the academy. Audiences OTOH couldn’t get enough: Newman’s Butch was the most likable man in the entire Wild West and Redford’s Kid the most virile, Hollywood heroes extraordinaire.

    Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was, is and always will be a perfect Hollywood confection, worth viewing at least once a decade. It ends in a legendary blaze of glory. Thus like its heroes, it never gets old.

  3. Really Great 4.5

    Paul Newman was a natural to play a supremely genial outlaw. His Butch Cassidy became the masculine template that many a young man aspired to, me included. Of course, his performance can’t be considered alone, as the chemistry he had with Robert Redford became a seminal example of Buddy Movie magic.

    Robert Redford became a star playing The Sundance Kid. Laconic, deadly handsome and just plain deadly, he mostly reacted to Newman’s voluble Butch, a role that clearly served him very well.

    Katharine Ross cemented her stardom as the woman at the center of their romantic triangle, Etta Place. Her entrance is entertainingly presaged when Redford mutters all the wonderful qualities he wants in a woman, then hooks up with her in a most entertaining manner. And whadda know, she’s all that.

    The supporting cast are mostly cameos, though some have a couple of scenes.

    • Strother Martin as a comically irritated mine boss. Martin was a staple character-actor for 30 years.
    • George Furth as the hapless Union Pacific man Woodcock, he who gets blown up after declaring that he “works for Mr. E.H. Harriman.”
    • Cloris Leachman, looking young and skinny, plays the talkative whore that Newman’s Butch leaves high and dry when he has to hightail it out of town.
    • Ted Cassidy plays the huge gang member who challenges Butch to a knife fight. Cassidy also played Lurch on The Addams Family TV Series. You rang…
    • Charles Dierkop is well cast as gang member Flat Nose Curry.
    • Sam Elliott’s Card Player bit part was his movie debut. He and Katherine Ross would later marry.
  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Great 4.0
  6. Female Costars Very Good 3.5
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5
  8. Perfect 5.0

    Starts with an old movie and makes maximum use of still images for the crucial New York City scenes, just some of the perfect techniques George Roy Hill used to make his first perfect film. Others include Edith Head doing the costumes, including beautiful dresses for Katharine Ross; droll, laconic irony throughout, much of it LOL funny; iconic scenes throughout, including a final scene that’s frozen in memory.

    Finally, consider just one of many perfect Hollywood tricks: Butch, Sundance and their lady friend travel First Class through New York and on down to South America. Hollywood thrives on such luxe dreams, where good looking people live large and carefree, here in service to a Revisionist Western.

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0
  10. Play Perfect 5.0

    Near every line is a classic, always building or advancing the story. William Goldman well deserved his Best Screenplay Oscar.

    “What I’m saying is, if you wanna go I won’t stop you.” Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to love cowboys.

  11. Music Perfect 5.0

    Great background singing.

    Then there’s Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head, which may still be the most famous song-scene in Hollywood history.

  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 2.3

    Gently Risqué

    “Keep going Teacher Lady” may be the sexiest thing Robert Redford ever said.

    Yet the movie was subtly subversive, as Bonnie and Clyde had recently begat Outlaw Heroes who are happy when they kill lawmen, and who get glorified instead of damned. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid defined this deviancy down by making it narcotically charming.

  15. Sex Titillating 1.8
  16. Violence Brutal 2.6
  17. Rudeness Salty 2.5
  18. Glib 1.7

    “Most of what follows is true” advises the opening title card, meaning much isn’t, including any certainty about whether Butch and Sundance really did go out in a blaze of glory.

    The certainly-fake includes the famous wilderness chase scene, including the cliff jump. It was shot in a variety of locales, Westerns being a Hollywood concoction and all.

    The real story starts here.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 2.0
  20. Biological Glib 1.5
  21. Physical Glib 1.5


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