Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (1969)

Food:

A fun video of a few foodies trying salteñas at one of New York’s only Bolivian restaurants: https://www.msn.com/en-us/video/c/we-tried-salte%C3%B1as-at-one-of-nycs-only-bolivian-restaurants/vp-AAHfygH

For those who are more adventurous chefs, here is a recipe for Bolivian Spicy Chicken that sounds like the perfect accompaniment to this movie: https://www.cawineclub.com/Bolivian-Spicy-Chicken_RP259.html

Western Film Series #12:

“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969), directed by George Roy Hill, tells the adventurous true story of the notorious, charming outlaw Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and his quick-drawing right hand man, known as the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford). Setting the scene, the introduction includes clips from the 1903 film “The Great Train Robbery,” and we understand that the story we are about to watch takes place in 1899 Wyoming, where the Wild West was beginning to get its footing.

Screenwriter William Goldman constructed an entertaining narrative after stumbling upon Butch Cassidy in the 1950’s and researching him intermittently for the next eight years. He was previously a novelist, but because much of the lore surrounding these men was just that – folklore – he preferred to write it as a screenplay and avoid the laborious research required to write a more detailed novel. Speaking about it later, he remarked, “The whole reason I wrote the … thing, there is that famous line that Scott Fitzgerald wrote, who was one of my heroes, “There are no second acts in American lives.” When I read about Cassidy and Longbaugh and the superposse coming after them—that’s phenomenal material. They ran to South America and lived there for eight years and that was what thrilled me: they had a second act. They were more legendary in South America than they had been in the old West … It’s a great story. Those two guys and that pretty girl going down to South America and all that stuff. It just seems to me it’s a wonderful piece of material.” Phenomenal material, indeed. The fascinating story of an American trio – Butch Cassidy, Sundance Kid, and Sundance’s girlfriend Etta (Katherine Ross) – gallivanting through South America on the money made from robbing banks is woven together with the free-spiritedness and charisma of Jean-Luc Godard’s “Jules & Jim” (1962) and the clever, cool Western dialogue of “Rio Bravo” (1959). (Supposedly, the trio was known as “The Wild Bunch,” but this name could not be used in the film due to copyright issues with Warner Bros. Studios having a project of different content that was already titled under the same name).

Hill explores the use of sepia tones and photographic montages to give homage to the archival footage of the real-life outlaws and keeps much of the film light enough to feel enjoyable. The natural chemistry between Newman and Redford gives way to an intriguing character study on the unique friendship between the two fugitives. With standard score and cinematography, the focus of the film relies on the storytelling and the leads – which works exceptionally well. Paul Newman had signed on for the film as Butch right away, but finding Robert Redford as his fellow musketeer took more work. They tried Jack Lemmon, Steve McQueen, Warren Beatty, and Marlon Brando before coming to find Redford through Paul Newman’s wife, Joanne Woodward, who had seen him as a stage performer prior.

The film cost 20th Century Fox $400,000 – a higher price for purchase than any other screenplays before – and Richard Zanuck, son of Fox co-founder Darryl F. Zanuck, was only authorized to spend half that amount. Despite the fact that the film paid off, as “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” turned out to be the top-grossing film of 1969, the production company was rapidly losing money for other flops (such as 1967’s “Dr. Dolittle” & 1969’s “Hello Dolly”), so Zanuck was fired from the company by 1970, despite him being the one who had brought on such a hit. One might say, “[he had] vision [but] the rest of the world wears bi-focals.”

At times the film drags and feels slower than it should (at a mere 1hr46min runtime), perhaps spending too much time on some of the less interesting shootouts and escapades where the character dynamics are much more compelling. According to, _ the film underwent strenuous edits because it was coming across as “too funny” and the comedic moments needed to be cut out to allow the drama to have more depth and make the film feel more respectable. Unfortunately, the genre of Western Comedy just was not doing well at box offices, and therefore, the film needed to abide by its proposed Western Drama standard. However, when comedy is done well, the sincerity can seep through, and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” might have benefited from allowing the humor to drive the story forward – and might have helped with the pacing. None the less, the film is incredibly likable.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
close-alt close collapse comment ellipsis expand gallery heart lock menu next pinned previous reply search share star