Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Ok, after taking some time off to start watching The Sopranos, I was able to catch the 1969 classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Legendary director George Roy Hill had his first time working with Paul Newman (Butch) and Robert Redford (Sundance)- which would lead to 1973's collaboration on The Sting (Winner of Best Picture at the Oscars). Hill has also directed two of the funniest films of the last 30 years with Funny Farm and Slap Shot.

With all that being said, there is a tremendous pedigree and hype to live up to for this film. The story follows two crooks who have been making a living getting by robbing the local train and of course banks. Eventually the owner of the rail company gets frustrated and turns it into a personal matter hiring the best around to track down Butch and the Kid.

Complicating matters is their relationship is Etta (Katarine Ross). She loves Sundance, but knows that he like all outlaws is doomed for death. Alas, she goes along with them anyway on their attempt to outrun the posse. This sets up the second part which takes place in Bolivia.

One of the problems I had with the film was the used of two lengthy musical montages. The first has a pop song (Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head) of the day playing while Newman shows off his bicylcle skills. This has absolutely no place in the film, but unfortunately is something older people no doubt remember the most. The second is used a a device to set up the final section of the film where the trio flees to Bolivia. It is an ok idea to use still photos to show them on their journey through NY/NJ to get the boat to South America, but it is far too long. Both are attempts to use more humor to lighten up what is really kind of a downer of a film.

I remember reading that Steve McQueen was supposed to be Sundance and I think maybe that would have helped. Redford is pretty much the silent type. He never really adds much to the role even though he can be quite the actor (See All the President's Men). Paul Newman gives the one solid performance as a old criminal that is more legend than legendary. George Roy Hill also appears to be working too hard at keeping this a lean film with not a lot of meat showing the relationship of the two. I found Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to be kind of a disappointment overall. The whole film never really works or goes any deeper than the surface. And by no means is there enough humor to say this works as a comedy.


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