Butch, Sundance, Newman, Redford, and “The Sting”

In the early 1970s, Paul Newman and Robert Redford took the buddy picture to the next generation. Carrying on in the tradition of Abbott and Costello, the duo starred in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “The Sting”, two of the most successful films of the decade.

The two actors met on the set of “Butch Cassidy”, in which Newman plays Butch and Redford plays the Sundance Kid. While the film is a scenic western set in the nineteenth century, the humour in the film is dry and modern and the bickering banter between the two lead characters is one of the film’s numerous highlights.

Four years later, the two appeared in another iconic period film, “The Sting”. Like “Butch Cassidy”, “The Sting” is a brilliant heist film with multiple layers, containing elements of comedy, suspense, and shocking violence. However, the banter between the two leads returned in full force.

George Roy Hill directed both films and earned an Oscar for the latter. He once stated in an interview that he didn’t consider directing comedy any different than drama or any other genre. Perhaps this accounts for both films’ many layers and deserve multiple viewings; in fact “The Sting” demands them. Viewers may enjoy Newman’s comedic timing during one sitting while focusing on Redford’s physical abilities during another. Either way, the audience should feel a sense of loss that the two actors made only these two films, and find solace that both are so good.