Monday, September 29, 2008

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; western / comedy, USA, 1969; D: George Roy Hill, S: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross, Henry Jones, Jeff Corey, Sam Elliott, Cloris Leachman

The Wild West, early 1900's. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are two outlaws who lead a gang. They rob trains and decide to pick on the Union Pacific wagon to steal the money of some Mr. Harriman. After a few robberies, Harriman hires a dozen expert assassins who start chasing Butch and Sundance. They follow them to a brothel and then through the night out in the wild. The two finally manage to escape by jumping from a cliff into a river. Figuring it became too dangerous, they and Sundance's girlfriend Etta go to Bolivia. After they rob banks, they get killed in an ambush.

Winner of several awards and prizes, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" is one of the most absurd and crazy anti-westerns that ever graced the screen: bizarre, chaotic, restless, messy and totally wild, this is a movie that is not for everyone's taste, and it is one of the movies that you think you will not like in the first 20 minutes, but then get a hang of it and actually enjoy its rhythm. By deciding to show only the last days of the real outlaws from the title, screenwriter William Goldman crafted a story that at first look does not even seem to be fitting enough for a whole feature film - it just shows Butch and Sundance robbing a few trains, getting chased by bounty hunters, escaping to Bolivia, the end - yet its untypical approach is at times so contagious and fun it is hard to resist it. The 'buddy' chemistry between Paul Newman and Robert Redford is fantastic and shows that they should have made more movies together, while the whole film is filled with surreal jokes and lines ("I know robbing banks is hard, but it's better than trains! They don't move, for one. They stay put!"; after discovering Harriman hired bounty hunter to get them, Butch says: "If he would just pay me what he's spending to make me stop robbing him, I'd stop robbing him!"), without any care what some traditional movie lovers will say, this is one of the funniest westerns ever made, whereas the legendary song "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" is wonderfully melancholic and nostalgic, cleverly representing the end of an era that also signalled the end of the two title heroes.


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