“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” plays a great trick on the audience: the lead characters are hilarious and likable, despite their criminal behaviour. The two have a quick, dry wit that often comes out in strange, unexpected times.
The film opens with Butch (Paul Newman) and Kid (Robert Redford) as the most infamous outlaws in the world. After robbing the same railroad one too many times, the wealthy owner hires a posse of the best bounty hunters in the country to kill the two. A long section of the movie is devoted to Butch and Kid’s frantic escape from the gang, including the famous scene where they jump from a mountain into a river. The two flee with Kid’s girlfriend, Etta (Katherine Ross) to Bolivia, where they resume their criminal behaviour and rob one too many banks.
“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” is more than just a western, or more than even a comedic western. Etta is the heart of the film and provides for its most poetic moments. Before they flee the country, she says she’s willing to accompany them on the condition that she won’t watch them die. She is their good luck charm on the way to Bolivia and once they arrive and start a crime spree. But when she leaves, she takes their luck with her. Finally, in a famous climax, the audience doesn’t have to watch them die either.
It’s a superior western and a terrific film.