"What do you mean, you can't swim?The iconic teaming of Paul Newman and Robert Redford was so wonderfully magical, and so profitable - Butch Cassidy was the year's highest grossing film - thats this offbeat Western comedy, bathed in cinematographer Conrad Hall's Oscar-winning Sepia hues, has been used as a basis for bickering buddy pictures ever since.
The fall'll probably kill ya!"
Outlaws Butch (Newman) and The Kid (Redford) are the leaders of the notorious Hole in the Wall Gang, but an over-the-top train robbery results in a posse of lawmen being hired to hunt them down. The lawmen begin a tireless pursuit prompting the recurring question from Butch that becomes a catchphrase - "Who ARE those guys?" - and forces Butch and The Kid to relaunch their criminal careers abroad, with the Kid's mistress Etta Place (Katharine Ross) in tow. The famous last act has a great deal of humour - most memorably the outlaws constantly trying and failing to master the Spanish translation of "This is a robbery; back against the wall!" so that they can become the biggest banditos in Bolivia. However, the most memorable image is the final, immortal one, of the pair, freeze-framed, as they run into a shoot-'em-up with an army.
Butch Cassidy is a beautifully made, very well structured combination of clever, original writing, wonderfully created visuals, and very gifted actors. In spite of all the jokes and robberies, the characters will really intrigue you and grab your attention, thanks mostly to their major contrasts - Butch, the brains, is a smooth talker with visions, carried away by his own enthusiasm, while The Kid is a golden boy with darkness within, cool and sardonic, ashamed to admit to any weaknesses.
William Goldman's Oscar-winning screenplay is exciting, witty and romantic, subtly satirizing and embracing Western legend (the real Butch and The Kid were, naturally, a huge contrast to the charismatic charmers Newman and Redford create on screen). It also has nerve, such as when The Kid accosts "teacher lady" Etta and orders her to undress at gunpoint. After the initial shock in a so-far genial film it comes as a huge relief, a big laugh, and even a turn-on, when it transpires that they are already well-aquainted.
Coupled with an Oscar-winning soundtrack, including a lovely segment that uses Burt Bacharach's Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head truly well, Butch Cassidy is a truly marvellous film, and, on a personal note, my favourite film from the '60s.
Stars: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross, Strother Martin, Henry Jones, Jeff Corey, George Firth, Cloris Leachman, Ted Cassidy, Kenneth Mars, Donnelly Rhodes, Jose Chavez, Charles Dierkop, Dave Dunlop, Pancho Cordova, Nelson Olmstead, Percy Helton, Rico Cattani, Buck Holland, Jack Isbell, Enrique Lucero, Timothy Scott, Jorge Russek, Jose Torvay.
Oscars: Best Screenplay (William Goldman), Best Cinematography (Conrad L. Hall), Best Original Score (Burt Bacharach), Best Original Song (Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head - Burt Bacharach, Hal David).
Oscar nominations: Best Picture (John Foreman), Best Director (George Roy Hill), Best Sound Mixing (William Edmondson, David Dockendorf).