I just realized…I haven’t done a western yet. My grandpa’s rolling over in his grave.
I’ll hit a John Wayne series later…today is going to be a different western.
I remember watching this movie with my mother on VHS for the first time and she was so excited to get it started. I sat beside her and noticed her giddy gestures right before her favorites scenes unfolded before us on the television.
From the “knife fight” at the beginning to the “dynamite” on the safe. From the chase through the wilderness to the free fall into the river. From the bank montages in Bolivia to the final showdown that fades to black and white.
“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” was my first exposure to Robert Redford and Paul Newman. After I saw this, I immediately made my mom rent “The Sting.” (She told me about it. She could rent it. I didn’t have to twist her arm. We can talk about “The Sting” later.)
I had to admit, I was shocked–AT FIRST–that my mother was rooting for these bank robbers. After about 10 minutes, that wore off and I couldn’t wait to see Newman and Redford interact on screen in each upcoming scene. The chemistry that those two actors displayed in the entirety of that film is unlike any I have scene two actors share together on film and has never been duplicated to such perfection. In a matter of seconds, we believe these two know each other better than they know themselves. Quite honestly, it carried the picture. The story is very simple; but the correct acting can make any simple story seem special.
Don’t get me wrong. I love William Goldman, and he wrote some good lines; but without the delivery of Redford and Newman, I don’t know that this film gets the credit that it deserves over the years. The delivery is crucial as well as the feeling of back story that we get without knowing any of their past. They make it very easy for us to believe that these two have known each other their entire lives; with the use of subtle gestures, giggles, and facial expressions. A little says a lot between these two, especially in this film.
I have multiple favorite scenes in this film, but I will always hold the “wilderness chase to the river drop” as the best set of sequences. It carries our attention through a very crucial time in the film where we could check out if needed, but it is able to keep us captivated with drama, suspense, and eventually–humor.
Is this the best western ever made?
Not in my book. It may not even be top 5, but it is a very entertaining story because of these two actors and their ability to convey a very “real” relationship.
I always liked to ask people, “Do you think you’re Sundance or Cassidy?”
It was a barometer I used to judge how people thought of themselves. I had to stop using it after the 90s as I started being around more and more people that had never seen it, which is a shame. I had a lot of fun conversations with people about that one.
I’m definitely Sundance….I don’t know if that’s good or bad.