Anthony's Film Review

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Here is a Western film that is delightful to watch...

As the respective title characters of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Paul Newman and Robert Redford certainly contribute memorable characters to the genre of Western motion pictures. They portray outlaws who rob banks and trains, yet don't come across as mean and dangerous. If anything, they're quite likable, even if we are perfectly aware of what side of the law they're on. That's really what I took away from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In contrast to Westerns that glorify heroic gunslingers, here is one that sort of glorifies the crooks.

The story is actually quite simple from start to finish. Butch and Sundance, leaders of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, do what they do best as usual, including a train heist in which one train car explodes and dollar bills are flying the air for the bandits to collect. Things seem to go well until a posse has the gang cornered. In a long sequence, Butch and Sundance flee as the law catches up to them. They manage to escape, and, with Sundance's girlfriend Etta Place (played by Katharine Ross), escape to Bolivia. But because there's not much there to enjoy, Butch and Sundance go back to robbing banks, this time placing themselves as targets for Bolivian policemen and soldiers.

One thing that deserves mention is the cinematography. There are plenty of beautiful landscape shots, even while Butch and Sundance are on the run. It's rather neat to admire the gorgeous scenery while still following the plot. A great example of this is a shot of a desert from a distance, with the faint sight of small dust clouds indicating horses approaching. I smiled at the beautiful sight and also sensed fear knowing that Butch and Sundance have to keep moving. Speaking of which, these scenes don't need any soundtrack. The silence of the moment is effective enough.

The other artistic feature worth mentioning is the use of black-and-white photos and film. It provides the movie with a sense of the time period, even as the movie is otherwise shot in color. There are three places that use black and white. One, during the opening credits to introduce the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang. Two, in the middle of the movie to show Butch, Sundance, and Etta enjoying the good life while on a train to Bolivia. And three, when the movie ends. This is when Butch and Sundance make one last move before the film stops in a freeze frame that fades into black and white. I thought this was creative, because we know what happens even though we don't actually see it happen. It's all up to the imagination.

I do agree that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid can be called a classic, though I wouldn't revere it as an excellent classic. It's simply a good classic. It's a notable work for Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and even for singer B.J. Thomas, who sings the memorable tune "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" in this film. And it's a nice addition to anyone's collection of Western movies. If I had to compile my own list of Western movies to see, I could certainly include Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, a film I enjoyed for its simplicity and fun.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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