Thursday, February 9, 2012

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

The combination of Robert Redford and Paul Newman seems like a sure fire winner. Put both of them in the roles of some of the most famous cowboys of the old west and how can this miss? But hold your horses pardners, this movie has a much different agenda to meet and it’s more rooted in the 1960s than the 1860s.

Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) are some of the most successful and genial bandits in the west. When they decide to rob a train as its coming and going from its destination they push their luck too far. The owner of Union Pacific creates a super posse to hunt down and kill the bandits. A long chase sequence follows, but a daring jump off a cliff allows Butch and Sundance to escape. They head back to pick up Sundance’s girl, Etta (Katherine Ross) and then head off to Bolivia. But it turns out that this isn’t the land flowing with riches that Butch described. Can these two friends till make a fortune and stay ahead of the law when they don’t speak a lick of Spanish between them? Only the script and Burt Bacharach’s jaunty score know for sure.

Good Points:
  • Amazing location shooting
  • Excellent camaraderie between Redford and Newman
  • The first 20 minutes are top-notch Western material

Bad Points:
  • Slows to a crawl once the chase kicks in
  • Bacharach’s score is hilariously distracting
  • Never seems to know what it wants to be a comedy set in the old west, or a western with some humor

This movie starts off really well, looking to be a classic fun Western. Newman and Redford own these characters and have some great interplay. But the fun gets sucked away and replaced with limp and oddly scored musical montages. As the movie inches toward its tragic end you realize that you never really cared about these two guys. The scenery is beautiful and there are some good action scenes, but all in all this feels more like a reaction to the state of the Westerns at the time and not really a movie that works beyond the time it was made.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 4
Sound: 3
Acting: 4
Script: 2
Music: 2
Direction: 3
Entertainment: 2
Total:  2

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


  1. I always felt largely the same way. I know there are fierce defenders of this movie, especially among boomers waxing nostalgic (as we too often are wont to do). But like you, I find it hard to sit through more than a half hour of it. By the end, I'm rooting for the Bolivian soldiers.

  2. I think part of my problem was that I enjoyed "The Sting" so much, I thought that this film was going to have a similar script and feel. But I really lost steam about 20 minutes in.