Tuesday, December 8, 2015

AFI Top 100, #50: "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969)

Movie Stats:
Released 1969 (USA)
American, in English (some Spanish, both translated and not)
Director - George Roy Hill
Stars - Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross

Plot Summary:
When the law gets too close, Wild West outlaws Butch Cassidy (Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Redford) flee to Bolivia. Ross co-stars as Sundance’s girlfriend, Etta Place.

Violence; minor blue language; heavily implied sexy times.

Bad Stuff:
I find the pace a tad slow.

The soundtrack doesn’t fit the film.

It seems to me that the 1960s were a very experimental time in general, and that flair for experimenting extended to filmmaking. Often when I’m watching a film from the ‘60s, I find myself perplexed, thinking, “What the heck is going on here?” There were a few of those moments in this movie. Some of them, ultimately, worked for me (the picture montage to signify the trio’s trip to Bolivia, although it went on too long) and some of them didn’t (the clown music/bicycle scene). Stylistically, I simply find 1960s - particularly the latter half of the decade - films to be exhausting. (I’m pretty sure I’ve complained about this before.)

Good Stuff:
The relationships are the best part. I love the friendship between Butch and Sundance. Even more, I love the friendship between Butch and Etta. And while I didn’t exactly appreciate the way that Sundance often treated Etta, I really liked that their relationship wasn’t overly romanticized.

Great dialogue, some of it quite funny.

There are some excellent, exquisitely understated scenes. One of my favorites was the moment when Etta realized that it was time for her to leave, that her journey with Butch and Sundance was over. It was all on her face, heartbreak followed by acceptance, and spoken in simple words, “I think I’ll go on home ahead of you.” It was beautiful and touching, more so because it wasn’t overwrought.

The Verdict:
I liked it. It has a great cast, all of whom are easy on the eyes, that does an excellent job. The story is simple but interesting. It has a good amount of action. I enjoy that Butch and Sundance are “gray” in terms of characterization. In many ways, they are good guys. In many other ways, they aren’t, and they continue to do things that will hurt both themselves and others. Like Etta, you care for them and yet, at the same time, you want to smack them upside the head and tell them to stop being idiots. I enjoy complex characters like that.

I give the film 3.75 stars.


Patricia said...

I watched this for the first time recently enough that I can remember stuff about it. I was amazed when I got to the ending that no one had ever spoiled the ending. It came as a complete surprise to me.

"Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" was a KBOI (the radio station I grew up with, who never changed their playlist) staple. It was bizarre to see it used in this movie--even though I knew it was from this movie--and even more so because the scene itself was so random.

And now I'm hearing the muted trumpet solo.

Update. I've just read my review and it seems that I sort of did know the ending. But I had it confused with the Thelma and Louise ending. I also made the astute observation that George Clooney and Brad Pitt are the Newman and Redford of present day.

balyien said...

Clooney/Pitt as the modern day Newman/Redford? Absolutely agree!

Not a big fan of the Raindrops song. It's weird that it was in/from this movie. I'm opposed to contemporary music in movies set in the past. For example, "A Knight's Tale." Can't stand the soundtrack to that film.