|Rating: The Good – 89.4
Duration: 110 mins
Director: George Roy Hill
Stars: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross
George Roy Hill’s iconic western is an inspired piece of film-making that takes a very different approach to the archetypal western. Adopting a humorous and light-hearted approach for much of the film, it gives the genre the time to breathe that it normally doesn’t receive and in focusing on one of the eras most legendary friendships it romanticises the old west in a manner more touching too. This was the first joint outing for Paul Newman and Robert Redford and they form an irresistible duo that easily goes down as the best on-screen partnership the medium has offered up. The two play off each other seamlessly and deliver two fascinating and novel characterisations. Newman is hysterical as the every-man Butch, the leader of the infamous Hole-in-the-Wall gang, while Redford is pitch perfect as the lightning fast gunslinger.
The action only kicks in about half way through when in the midst of all the gang’s usual shenanigans, a breakneck chase suddenly erupts which sees Butch and Sundance being pursued across mountain and desert by a ruthless posse of specialists. Hill’s decision to never show the faces of the posse was inspired and it gives the near half-hour long pursuit a real edge. In fact, there’s arguably not another chase sequence that is as electric or effectively shot as this one. Katherine Ross comes to the fore more in the final act as the woman in the middle but never in between and adds a nice counterpoint to the pair.
Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid is really a perfect film which plays by its own rules. The level of ingenuity and innovation that Hill brings to the shooting of it from the fleeting use of monochrome to the integration of Burt Bacharach’s counter-intuitive yet seminal soundtrack, ensures that there’s not a frame in it where you don’t notice something special. It’s also a genuinely funny and at times hysterical film thanks chiefly to the telepathic understanding shared between the leads but also William Goldman’s sublime script. With a movie that boasts such perfection it is, therefore, quite fitting that Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid signs off with one of the great cinematic salutes and in doing so immortalises its two heroes in splendid fashion. Cinema magic.© Copyright 2014 Derek D, All rights Reserved. Written For: movieshrink.com