“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969)

Genre: Western
Director: George Roy Hill
Starring Cast: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katherine Ross

“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” is set in the early 1900s. Butch Cassidy (Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Redford) are members of the “Hole in the Wall” gang, a group of desperate ne’er do wells. They stick up banks and trains for profit and sport. However, Butch’s dream is to go to Bolivia, a virtual oasis of gold, silver and tin mines just waiting for Butch to take advantage of.

The two friends and their gang are incessantly chased by a remote and unrelenting posse, forcing them into the hills for cover. At one stage, the posse corners Butch and the Kid on a precipice at the edge of a sheer rock canyon with no way out. They are faced with a choice between a desperate shoot out and a virtually suicidal leap. Although the Kid confesses he can’t swim, they jump in together. Remarkably, they both survive the leap, and the river’s current sweeps them to safety. After a dreamy interlude during which both men compete for the affections of a school teacher Etta Place (Ross), they get to Bolivia where the army catches up with them.

This film version of a true story is hugely compelling and enjoyable. Paul Newman and Robert Redford make perfect partners in crime. Newman is an independent, eccentric thinker who has no respect for the law. Redford is more down to earth, a more conventional Western hero.

Unlike other Westerns of the time, the film uses a satirical mix of slapstick comedy and straight cowboy action to remark on the clichés of the Western genre and makes for a truly splendid viewing experience.

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