Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (A tribute to Paul Newman)

October 6, 2008 at 7:48 pm (Uncategorized)

I have been MIA for quite some time now. This is not a reflection on my extent of movie watching (I’d have watched atleast 20 in the corresponding period) but after the flak I received for Rock On (I still stick by it, the movie sucked balls) I have decided to review only those movies which evoke extreme emotions only. No bland movies ( so no more Rock On, ok I have to stop this rant.)

Paul Newman was one of the greatest on the silver screen I have ever come across. And not just as an actor but as a director, entrepreneur and God knows what else. The Sting remains one of my all time favorites ( I will always hold a grudge against Hustle for having ruined the plot for me). His performance in Cool Hand Luke is unparalleled. BCASK was one of the movies I always wanted to see. And after his death, I couldn’t think of a better way to pay homage to this legend.

It starts as a neo-noirish Western but then it shows its beautiful face. A comic western (well not quite Blazing saddles) with the kind of humor which Paul Newman (later along with Robert Redford who as the Sundance kid gives a dazzling performance) became famous for . Sample this -” Why did you close down th e bank. It was beautiful” ” Well people just kept on robbing it” “Beautiful indeed”

Butch fights off a leadership tussle within his own gang ( in which he bets against himself, talk about hedging risks, if only the Wall St. smart kids would have taken this lesson) and then robs a train. He plans to rob the train on its way back (the ingenuity supplied by his rival ironically) as well. The ferocity and the fear evoked by Butch is shown as the marshal is unable to gather a posse to go after the gang.

The love interest of Sundance is pursued by Butch as well setting up a love triangle subplot (which incidentally turns out to be one of the weak points of the movie). The real tale begins when a posse hunts them after their second robbery attempt gone wrong. The chase showcases the picturesque scenery of the West without which the genre of western movies would be reduced to the an’n’als of RockOnites (sorry sorry this is the last time I mention Rock on Ever)

Well the story moves on to Bolivia where the three are involved in some of the most hilarious robbery scenes you will ever see on the 70 mm screen without being reduced to buffoonery. Their attempts to lead a straight life are thwarted by destiny which apparently wants them to stick to things they do best. And all this climaxes in the ever eternal scene where the scene is framed but you can still hear the sounds of the bullets whizzing around.

Paul Newman and Robert Redford are there in almost every single shot of the movie. Initially there had been some controversy over the title of the movie. Actors couldn’t agree on which character should get the more prominent role and this led to multiple changes in the cast. Even though Sundance Kid is in the latter part of the title, Redford brings the role alive on his own. The movie would also catapult him to the stage of stardom. Redford, Newman and director George Roy Hill would later regroup for another classic – “The Sting”.

George deserves special mention for breaking the mould and trying to be innovative. The 2nd robbery scene (where the excess of dynamite blows up the entire carriage) is masterfully done. The allusion to lack of money somehow reminded of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The journey from US to Bolivia is an exquisite masterpiece. Hill uses a montage of pictures with the background music reflecting the mood to represent this journey. The mere use of this instrument was a high point for me in the movie. Wonder why it is not used more often. It has a strong lingering after taste (oops the wine sessions have got to me). There is a dialogue free scene in which the song “Raindrops keep falling on my head” plays in the background. All you Bollywood aficionados would relate to this instantly but it was something of  a refreshing change in a Western. On another note, I have been hearing this song everywhere now. On the Simpsons, on Arrested Development. See extreme emotions indeed.

The humor is never over the top and seems to fit in seamlessly. But the movie meanders in the middle and the chase sequences begin to look repetitive. The tame end to the love triangle doesn’t help matters. But the movie more than redeems itself in the end. Tell you what. Just listen to the last dialogue in the movie and you will know how uber cool this movie was.

Newman, Just show this to St. Peters and your entrance to heaven is guaranteed. You deserve a place there.

Genre: Western, Humor

Rating: Gem

Watch it with: Your friends

Watch it for: A Jolly good time

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid



  1. almostinfamous said,

    good one. he has something so many actors lack today. presence. even while modern greats like de niro and pacino have gone on to become caricatures of their former selves, newman never did that. even his performance in ‘road to perdition’ showed what kind of intense presence he has. the only parallel i can think of, and not just because of the western connection, is clint eastwood.

  2. Sunil said,

    dude i downloaded this movie a week ago for a friend… haven’t watched it till now


  3. Shveta said,

    This movie was a summer vacation staple when I was growing up…I loved Robert Redford, for me it used to be the Sundance Kid & Butch Cassidy (although that admittedly doesn’t have quite the same ring). I like your blog (reviewing of movies)…good taste! 😉

    vaise..talking of humour-how abt when they landed in Bolivia…”Bolivia!!!

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