Paul Newman and Robert Redford set the standard for the "buddy film" with this box office smash set in the Old West. The Sundance Kid (Redford) is the frontier's fastest gun. His sidekick, Butch Cassidy (Newman), is always... more » dreaming up new ways to get rich fast. If only they could blow open a baggage car without also blowing up the money-filled safe inside... Or remember that Sundance can't swim before they escape a posse by leaping off a cliff into rushing rapids... Times are changing in the west and life is getting tougher. So Butch and Sundance pack their guns, don new duds, and, with Sundance's girlfriend (Katharine Ross), head down to Bolivia. Never mind that they don't speak Spanish - they'll manage somehow. A winner of four Academy Awards (including best screenplay and best song), here is a thoroughly enjoyable blend of fact and fancy done with true affection for a bygone era and featuring the two flashiest, friendliest funniest outlaws who ever called out "hands up!"« less
"This disc ranks right up there with one of the worst Blu-ray transfers I own (along with the first Stargate release). It is a shame, as this is a really great and fun movie. It is one of the first westerns I recall that really interspersed humor with drama in an effective way. I thought it tried to be a bit too much or to have something for everyone (the bicycle scene went on a little long for my taste, for example). Audio is fine but the failure to produce a really outstanding video transfer (as was done with Patton recently) will disappoint the many fans of this movie who were eagerly awaiting this release."
NEEDS REMASTERING. FILM: Wonderful. Transfer: Not so much...
APC Reviews | USA | 12/02/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A great film that deserves a new transfer. The source transfer of this film appears to be the same source as the one used for the DVD version. This is not to say that it doesn't look much better in Blu-Ray than it does on DVD. But it is not, evidently, a brand new remastered transfer made expressly for Blu-Ray release.
As happened in past generations of video standards, VHS to LaserDisc, LaserDisc to DVD, standard definition 480i to "high def" 1080i, and now 480p progressive scan DVD to 1080p Blu-Ray, the studios are cutting corners and, with many titles, re-issuing transfers that were "pretty good" for the prior standard on newer media without re-mastering them for the full potential of the newer standard. "Pretty good" is not why you buy a Blu-Ray, or pay a premium for it.
Sadly, some major film titles are being "shoved out there" on the new Blu-Ray format. This appears to be one of them. Although not nearly as bad as the abysmal "Silence Of the Lambs" and "Interview With The Vampire" BDs, the high-def picture quality of "Butch Cassidy" is still sub-par and underwhelming compared to what it could have been with a new-transfer made with BD release in mind."
Still Great Contemporary-Feeling Western Classic in a Robust
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 06/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It amazes me how incredibly well this 1969 western has held up after all these years. At once classically structured and satirically executed, director George Roy Hill and screenwriter William Goldman have pulled together a supremely entertaining period picture that caters to contemporary sensibilities to this day. It is to their credit that the film remains true to the characters and never gets too broad during its quickly paced 110-minute running time. The story naturally revolves around the legendary outlaws who robbed banks at the turn of the last century. Their escapades are divided roughly into three sections in the film. The first is the introductory set-up where their opposite yet complementary personalities are established. Leading the motley Hole in the Wall Gang, they ultimately pull off a train robbery with an excess of dynamite. The second part is an extended chase sequence where Butch and Sundance are chased relentlessly by a group of unknown bounty hunters.
The third and final part details their escape to Bolivia where they are determined to go straight but get caught up with local bandits and find their infamous past catching up with them. It seems inconceivable to have anyone other than Paul Newman and Robert Redford in the title roles. As the more established star at the time, Newman is characteristically laconic as Butch. His innate likeability is enhanced by his rascally manner and crack comedy timing. In the more traditional gunslinger role, Redford provides the ideal partner with his flinty manner and unavoidable charisma. In between them is Katharine Ross, fresh from "The Graduate", who plays Etta with sensual élan, though she does not figure in the most critical scenes. Of course, Burt Bacharach's instantly recognizable musical score is here, and while there is an anachronistic feel to such 1960's-sounding pop music over a western, it somehow works because the attitude of the film seems so modern. Even the comically romantic bicycle sequence manages to preserve its buoyancy thanks to the inane but undeniably catchy "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head".
Conrad Hall's vibrant, burnished cinematography deserves special mention as it has been preserved well in the 2006 Ultimate Collector's Edition DVD package. The rest of the two-disc package is robust though bordering on overkill, adding on to the features that were already included in the previous 2000 Special Edition DVD. Retained from that edition is the interesting combination of perspectives provided by Hill, Hall, lyricist Hal David and associate producer Bob Crawford in their joint commentary track. New is separate and equally insightful commentary from Goldman. Another holdover from the previous edition is the forty-minute vintage documentary, "The Making of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid", a still terrific featurette from 1970 with participation from Newman, Goldman, Hill and Redford.
There are three new documentaries - a 2005 retrospective look at the film called "All of What Follows is True: The Making of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"; a fact-check featurette called "The Wild Bunch: The True Tale of Butch & Sundance"; and the somewhat repetitive "History Through the Lens: Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid: Outlaws Out of Time", a cumulative effort which combines elements of all the other documentaries into one ninety-minute feature. Lots of great insight is provided on the 1994 interviews with Newman, Redford, Ross, Goldman and Bacharach. A deleted scene is also included with Hill's commentary (since the audio had been lost) - it is a disposable transitional scene where Butch and Sundance are watching newsreel footage of themselves in a Bolivian theater while Etta quietly leaves to the train station. Lastly, there are trailers for eight of Newman's vintage films. This is definitely a robust package for one of the great films of the 1960's."
"You Just Keep Thinking, Butch...!"
J. H. Minde | Boca Raton, Florida and Brooklyn, New York | 03/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film truly deserves the description of being a "Classic." Paul Newman and Robert Redford (in the company of Director George Roy Hill and a particularly appealing Katharine Ross), take the history of the bloodthirsty "Hole-in-the-Wall Gang," and turn it into an affectionate cinematic portrayal of male bonding and cultural change. Taking place at the end of the 19th century, Butch and Sundance are, as veteran actor Jeff Corey, playing a sympathetic sheriff and accidental existentialist, snarls, "two-bit outlaws on the dodge!" They spend much of the movie dodging a posse hired to hunt them down and kill them in the wake of a series of amusing train robberies. The location shooting of their escape is breathtakingly beautiful. Ultimately, they have to flee the closing frontier, and end up in Bolivia, which is portrayed as a kind of low-rent version of the Old West. Their trip to South America is an intermezzo, done in sepia tint, focusing on their stay in New York, which, with its (relatively) modern conveniences, underscores how anachronistic their lifestyle has become. Their inability to rob banks in Bolivia without using Spanish-language crib sheets is both hilarious and touching, a kind of paradigm of cultural and technological dislocation. In keeping with its 1969 release date, the film has a strong antiestablishment cant to it: Authority is faceless, unyielding, and, mostly, inept. It is telling that Butch and Sundance kill no one until they "go straight" as payroll guards. Their criminal lifestyle is romanticized as a kind of "On The Road" on horseback. That this doesn't offend the audience is a measure of how fine this movie is. The warmth and humor overcome both the moral relativity of the characters and their sad ending.Newman and Redford are wonderful together as the affable outlaws. Newman's Butch is a charming, flaky visionary who is trying desperately to cling to the past. When confronted with the new alarms and teller's cages at a favorite bank, he dismisses the guard's explanation of, "People kept robbing us" with a wistful, "It's a small price to pay for beauty." As Butch says: "The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles!" In a sense: the Western Outlaw was succeeded by "Public Enemy Number One" when cars succeeded horses, and train and bank robberies became Federal crimes. "Your times is over!," Jeff Corey insists, and he's right.Redford plays Sundance as the stylish straight man, never quite falling prey to Butch's dreams, but never able to dismiss them utterly: "You just keep thinking, Butch, that's what you're best at!" The onscreen chemistry between Newman and Redford is so palpable that although they only made two films together ("The Sting" in 1973 is a modernized version of "Butch & Sundance"), they can easily be considered one of the finest comedy duos ever, anywhere. The dialogue between them is banter between two very good, very old, very comfortable, friends. Maybe there was a script involved, too. "Butch and Sundance" may be short on facts, but it speaks a kind of truth for which facts are not needed."
Themis-Athena | from somewhere between California and Germany | 05/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How do you ensure somebody's legacy as a hero? In the good old days, you wrote a book. Nowadays, you make a movie - and if you're lucky and it's really, really successful, you can retrospectively even make legends out of dangerous criminals. Not that that always works, of course. But with two great actors with instant chemistry (Paul Newman and Robert Redford), a script (by William Goldman) bursting with one-liners making the audience bowl over laughing every other minute, without once derailing into slapstick, a director's (George Roy Hill's) ingenious use of the occasion to turn a whole genre on its head, and some of the world's most beautiful locations, filmed by an exceptional cinematographer (Conrad Hall) ... you just may pull it off. Case in point: "Butch and Sundance."
While Butch Cassidy (Robert LeRoy Parker) was known as the Old West's Robin Hood for his charm, masterly planning, avoidance of bloodshed - he really did claim he'd never shot anyone - and his stance for settlers' rights vis-a-vis the wealthy cattle barons, Sundance (Henry Longbaugh) had the reputation of a loner; a fast draw repeatedly in and out of prison before even turning twenty-one. After several of their Wild Bunch/Hole in the Wall Gang associates had seen the short end of the stick in various encounters with the law, Butch and Sundance determined things were getting too hot in the West and, unlike the outlaws who not much earlier had stood it out until the end (Billy the Kid, the James Gang and the O.K. Corral gunfighters), decided to head for South America. With a woman named Etta Place, possibly a teacher as portrayed here or, perhaps more likely, a prostitute, they first spent several years farming in Argentina - both had done cattle work before turning to robbery, although in the form of rustling (stealing unbranded cattle) - but eventually reverted to their more profitable, preferred occupation. Most sources believe they died in a 1909 shootout with the Bolivian military in a town named San Vicente; others, however, claim either or both escaped alive, returned to the States under assumed names and died there (Sundance in Casper, WY in 1957 and Cassidy, according to his sister, in Spokane, WA, in 1937).
While their decision to leave the West instead of duking it out with the law and the mystery surrounding their deaths would already have made for a great movie, director Hill cleverly used the material for a 180-degree-turn on the Western genre. The opening credits roll next to sepia-tinged silent shots depicting a Hole in the Wall Gang train robbery, followed by the bold claim that "most of what follows is true" - which in itself couldn't be further from the truth. What does follow is a wild ride from the Outlaw Trail to Bolivia ... during which our heroes aren't getting rid of their pursuers, no Western music with guitars and harmonicas accompanies them but Burt Bacharach's multiple-award-winning, deliberately anachronistic, upbeat score (plus "Raindrops Are Falling on My Head" during the most romantic scene - raindrops???), a knife fight is settled by a kick in the groin, and a marshal trying to assemble a posse first meets with a lackluster population, neither willing to bring their own horses and guns nor clamoring to be supplied with such by him, and in short order sees his meeting usurped by a bicycle salesman. Add to that Oscar-winning cinematography, repeatedly using black-and-white lighting techniques even after the film's switch to color (e.g. in Sundance's first visit with Etta), reverse lighting to make daytime shots look like nighttime (during several scenes of the pursuit) and sepia-tinted shots for period feeling (besides the opening, also to sum up the trio's stay in New York), a Bolivian bank robbery with a crib sheet containing "specialized vocabulary" that Butch, contrary to initial claims, doesn't know in Spanish, and an immortalizing freeze-frame ending - and you have one heck of an entertaining movie, shot in some of the West's most spectacular settings and in Mexico (as Bolivia's stand-in).
"Butch and Sundance" turned Redford into a megastar - Hill lobbied hard for the then-perceived "playboy"'s casting, and his instincts proved so dead-on that Newman's entourage became worried the movie's expected primary star would be sidelined (a feeling never shared by Newman himself, though, who has been friends with Redford ever since). In a twist worthy of Goldman's Oscar-winning screenplay, fearsome loner Sundance became one of Redford's most popular roles, and his independent film festival's namesake. The movie renewed popular interest in the Outlaw Trail, which Redford himself traveled later, too (chronicled in a fascinating, alas out-of-print book). Its script is littered with memorable one-liners; from both heroes' "Who *are* those guys??" to Butch's comments on the small price to pay for beauty, on Sundance's gun-prowess ("like I've been telling you - over the hill"), on vision, bifocals and Bolivia, on Sundance's asking Etta (Katherine Ross) to accompany them, although if she'll ever "whine or make a nuisance," he'll be "dumping her flat" ("Don't sugarcoat it like that, Kid ... tell her straight!") and his downplaying the final shootout because their archenemy LaForce isn't there; Sundance's "You just keep thinking, Butch," his comments on the secret of his gambling success (prayer), on not being picky about women (followed by a litany of required attributes), on the excessive use of dynamite, and his one weakness ("I can't swim!!"); and finally Strother Martin/mine-owner Percy Garris's deadpan delivery of the Shanghai Rooster song, of "Morons ... I've got morons on my team" and his assertion not to be crazy but merely colorful. The famous freeze-frame ending has repeatedly been cited, both cinematographically (e.g. "Thelma and Louise") and in dialogue (e.g. 1998's "Negotiator"). And although initially almost uniformly panned by critics, the movie won quadruple Oscars and multiple other awards. In true Hollywood fashion, it has made two fearsome outlaws legends forever ... and in the process, also won legendary status itself.
Also recommended: The Outlaw Trail: A Journey Through Time Digging up Butch and Sundance (Second Edition) Butch Cassidy: A Biography (Bison Book) Hud Jeremiah Johnson The Sting (Universal Legacy Series) Adventures in the Screen Trade"