BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (director: George Roy Hill; screenwriter: William Goldman; cinematographer: Conrad Hall; editors: John C. Howard/Richard C. Meyer; music: Burt Bacharach; cast: Paul Newman (Butch Cassidy), Robert Redford (The Sundance Kid), Katharine Ross (Etta Place), Strother Martin (Percy Garris), Jeff Corey (Sheriff Bledsoe), George Furth (Woodcock); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: John Foreman/Paul Monash; Twentieth Century Fox; 1969)

"Fine escapist entertainment."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

One of the top grossing Westerns of all time. George Roy Hill ("Hawaii"/"The Sting"/"The World According to Garp") directs this comedy Western as a buddy film (before that genre became popular) that takes a lighthearted approach to a true story about semi-folk legend outlaws; its two amiable outlaws display a good chemistry together as they play off each other in their spirited sarcastic banter--which makes for fine escapist entertainment. It's cleverly written by William Goldman, who too cutely for my taste makes this sad story a slight chic comedy. In real life Butch Cassidy was a genial outlaw who ran The Hole in the Wall Gang, who with as little violence as possible robbed banks and trains. The Sundance Kid, on the other hand, was a fast draw volatile gunslinger who had a rep for getting drunk and going on saloon shoot-outs. Hill chooses to chronicle the last two months of the duo, rather than during their glory days.

The times were A Changing in the counterculture 1960s and with Bonnie and Clyde (1967) paving the way for the new rebel heroes, Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) go the same route and transform the criminals into the outlaw heroes in the early 1900s in the Old West. It was released to only so-so reviews, but caught the mood of the public and boosted the careers of everyone involved from already superstar Newman to handsome leading man Redford suddenly becoming a major star.

After a series of train robberies of the Union Pacific in Wyoming, the railroad baron, E. H. Harriman, hires a "super-posse," consisting of the best lawmen and trackers in the country, to hunt Butch and Sundance down and the boys decide to flee to Bolivia to avoid the Pinkertons and continue their bank robberies. It slickly ends on a freeze frame with the heroic bandits chased by the Bolivian police, who keep firing away at the boys.

The film wins style points for Conrad Hall's arty photography, that features fast cut editing. But its once revolutionary filming techniques now appear stale after being so much imitated and though the film is still entertaining, it no longer seems like something special. Katherine Ross plays Etta Place, a school teacher who is the Kid's girl. She returns from S.A. to New York City, the Kid's hometown, to start life over rather than remain with the boys.

Added attractions are the song 'Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head' and the playing of the silent movie 'The Hole in the Wall Gang' as the opening credits roll by.

REVIEWED ON 7/25/2010       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"