Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

“Who are those guys?”

When bank robbers Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) realize they’re being followed by a posse that will stop at nothing to kill them, they convince Redford’s girlfriend Etta (Katharine Ross) to flee with them to Bolivia.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Cat and Mouse
  • Cloris Leachman Films
  • Friendship
  • George Roy Hill Films
  • Katharine Ross Films
  • Outlaws
  • Paul Newman Films
  • Robert Redford Films
  • Westerns

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary opens his review of this box office hit by noting that “it’s hard not to immediately like these two legendary outlaws of the 1890s — sly, emotional, funny Butch Cassidy and the fast-drawing, deadpanned, funny Sundance Kid — especially when Paul Newman and Robert Redford are imbuing them with their own ingratiating qualities.” He writes that “their comic bantering even in the face of danger is enjoyable, delivered with the ease of a veteran comedy team”:

… and “we think this will be a delightful pair to watch as they undertake several adventures.” However, he argues that “what happens is simply that writer William Goldman and director George Roy Hill repeatedly place the duo in danger and have them react in the same exact manner.”

He asserts “there is no real story… just constant references… to a posse on their trail” — and while “we had figured that their glib humor was just a part of their personalities and we [simply needed to] wait for the characters to reveal depth,” this never happens; instead, “it turns out to be the trait that dominates all others.”

I’m in agreement with Peary’s assessment. Less than halfway through this film, I realized that the remainder of the storyline would simply consist of watching our protagonists attempting to escape their fate, which we know in advance (this film has one of the single most famous closing shots in cinematic history, so I’m not spoiling anything here).

Sure, Butch and Sundance made their bed (having plenty of fun doing so), and then had to lie on it — but why should viewers be asked to watch so much of their downfall? I suppose the primary point of this ultimate buddy adventure flick is to see how closely they stuck together through it all — but I found it depressing. With that said, it was nonetheless interesting and informative to listen to a featurette about the making of the film, in which George Roy Hill talks us through his experiences and decisions scene by scene; it’s highly recommended for anyone wanting an insider’s look into this movie, which was expertly crafted on every front.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy
  • Robert Redford as the Sundance Kid
  • Numerous exciting sequences
  • Conrad Hall’s cinematography

  • Fine location shooting in Durango and Silverton, Colorado; St. George and Grafton, Utah; and Cuernavaca and Taxco, Mexico (in place of Bolivia)

Must See?
Yes, for its historical relevance and the enjoyable chemistry between Newman and Redford.


  • Historically Relevant

(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)


One thought on “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

  1. Not must-see.

    Rewatch (12/11/20): first viewing since its release – and now I understand why I never returned to it. I’m guessing that one of the main reasons for the film’s initial success was the attractive ‘chemistry’ of pairing Newman with Redford.

    Although the two work well together, Goldman’s script is good without being particularly great or unique. It’s been gussied up to seem much better than it is, thanks to Hill, DP Hall and Bacharach’s score (which is most effective in the montage sequences) – and a few scenes are particularly strong.

    The film also gets a boost from what amounts to tiny cameos by George Furth, Kenneth Mars, Cloris Leachman, Henry Jones, Ted Cassidy and Jeff Corey.

    Best performance: Strother Martin (who likely was cast at Newman’s suggestion after doing such a memorable job in ‘Cool Hand Luke’).

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