Butch Cassidy: Is that what you call giving cover?
Sundance Kid: Is that what you call running? If I knew you were going to stroll…
R: I’ve said before that I sometimes struggle with Westerns, because you don’t get much in the way of characterisation from a bunch of tough guys scowling at each other. This solves that problem by giving the heroes a sense of humour. There’s hardly a scowl between them!
F: Yes both Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are very charismatic characters. There are some great one liners in this, shared fairly equally between the two.
R: The chemistry between them really is special. I totally believed that this pair have years of history as friends and partners-in-crime. Although if you were looking to be critical I guess you could argue there’s not a huge amount of depth there?
F: I agree we don’t learn much about the characters in terms of what drove them to becoming outlaws. And I also get the impression it’s probably not an accurate representation of the real life Butch and Sundance.
R: I’m fairly certain it wouldn’t be wise to use this film as a history lesson!
F: But both characters feel very real and I enjoyed a couple of hours in their company. I think we have to acknowledge this is in no small part to the two central performances – both Paul Newman and Robert Redford are doing some of their best work here.
R: Oh for sure. With lesser actors this might have just been a light action adventure, almost Saturday matinee type of film. But Paul Newman and Robert Redford give you a bit more to think about with their expressions and the weight they bring to their actions.
F: I also think it’s easy to forget just how huge a star Paul Newman was at the time and that this was Robert Redford’s breakthrough role. So I think a lot of credit needs to go to Redford who manages to keep pace with Newman throughout.
R: Certainly, I’d say Redford almost steals the show. What about Katharine Ross as Etta Place? Did you think she matched their level of performance?
F: Yes I think she holds her own here but there is the usual complaint of female characters in Westerns…
R: It’s fair to say the script gives her less to work with than her male co-stars, but yes, “holds her own” is about right I reckon.
F: Can we talk about the bicycle scene? That was just a bit odd…
R: Didn’t you see this was released in 1969? I think there was some sort of rule that year that every film that came out had to have at least one weird, non-plot-critical scene with an odd music choice. But it’s all groovy man…
F: Ha! Yes definitely taking a leaf out of Easy Rider‘s book. It just went on for longer than it needed to. I also have another complaint with the use of the sepia style colour tone at the beginning. I’m glad the whole film wasn’t like that! Do you have anything you weren’t so keen on?
R: The Burt Bacharach soundtrack took me out of it a few times – not just in the bicycle scene. I’d have much preferred music more in keeping with the period. And I’m not sure the use of stills for their New York trip had much purpose aside from saving on the budget. But nitpicking feels very mean-spirited when a film is such pure fun. For every tiny nitpick I could probably name ten laugh out loud moments.
F: Again this is a film I found much funnier than I thought I would. It’s held up really well and apart from that scene on the bike doesn’t feel dated. Maybe we should watch The Sting next!
Is it worthy of the top 100?
R: It certainly is.
F: The most fun movie so far on the list. Definitely deserves its place.