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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a American Western film that tells the story of bank robbers Butch Cassidy (played by Paul Newman) and his partner The Sundance Kid (played by Robert Redford), based loosely on historical fact.

The film was directed by George Roy Hill and produced at 20th Century Fox by John Foreman from a screenplay by William Goldman. The music score was by Burt Bacharach with song lyrics by Hal David. Along with Newman and Redford, the film stars Katharine Ross as Etta Place, and features Strother Martin, Henry Jones, Jeff Corey, Sam Elliott, Cloris Leachman, Ted Cassidy, Kenneth Mars and Donnelly Rhodes.

With a box office of over US$100 million (equivalent to over $500 million in 2009 dollars), it was the top grossing film of the year. At the 42nd Academy Awards in 1970 the film won Oscars in four of the seven categories within which it had been nominated, including awards for its screenplay and cinematography. At the 24th British Academy Film Awards, the film received nine awards including Best Film. Years later, the film has been recognized on a half dozen of the American Film Institute's AFI 100 Years... series lists, including both editions of the "100 Years... 100 Movies" lists; it has been part of the United States National Film Registry since 2003.

The film was originally rated M by the Motion Picture Association of America. It was re-rated PG when 20th Century Fox re-released the film in 1974.

Plot

Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford), the leaders of the Hole in the Wall Gang, are planning another bank robbery. As they return to their hideout in Hole-in-the-Wallmarker, they find out that the gang has selected a new leader, Harvey Logan (Ted Cassidy). He challenges Butch to a knife fight, which Butch wins, using a ruse. Although Logan is defeated, Butch quickly embraces Logan's idea to rob the Union Pacific Flyer twice, agreeing with Logan that the second robbery would be unexpected and likely to involve even more money than the first.

The first robbery goes very well and the marshal of the next town (Kenneth Mars) cannot manage to raise a posse. Butch and Sundance listen to his attempts from mere yards away, enjoying themselves on the balcony of a nearby brothel. Sundance's lover, Etta Place (Katharine Ross), is introduced; both men vie for her attention as she also goes bike-riding with Butch during a dialogue-free musical interlude, accompanied by the Oscar-winning song "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head."

The second robbery goes wrong. Not only does Butch use too much dynamite to blow the safe, but a second train arrives, which is carrying a posse that has been specially outfitted by E. H. Harriman to hunt Butch and Sundance. The gang flees in multiple directions, with the posse following Butch and Sundance. They try hiding in a brothel but are betrayed. They try riding double on a single horse in the hope that the posse will split up, but that fails. They then try to arrange an amnesty with the help of the friendly Sheriff Bledsoe (Jeff Corey). But he tells them they have no chance of getting one, and that they will be hunted down until they are killed by the posse.

Still on the run the next day, they muse about the identities of their pursuers. They fixate on Lord Baltimore, a famous Indian tracker, and Joe Lefors, a tough, renowned lawman, recognized at a distance by his white skimmer, or straw hat. After reaching the summit of a mountain, they find themselves trapped on the edge of a canyon. They decide to jump into the river far below, even though Sundance cannot swim and would prefer to fight. Later they arrive at Etta's house and learn that the posse has been paid to stay together until they kill the two of them. They decide it is time to leave the country and head to Boliviamarker, a destination Cassidy had spoken about earlier.

They head to New Yorkmarker, then board a passenger ship, eventually arriving by train in a small Bolivian village. Sundance already resents the choice. Their first attempted bank robbery stops before it gets off the ground, as they are unable to speak Spanish. Etta teaches them the words they need. Their next robbery is clumsily executed, as Butch still needs his cribsheet. After more robberies, the duo, now known as the Bandidos Yanquis, are sought by the authorities all over Bolivia. In spite of their success, their confidence drops one evening when they see a man wearing a white straw hat on the other side of the street, and fear that Lefors is once again after them. Butch suggests going straight, so as to not attract Lefors's attention.

They get their first honest job as payroll guards in a mine, directed by an American named Garris (Strother Martin). However, on their first working day, they are attacked. Garris is killed, and Butch and Sundance are forced to kill the Bolivian robbers, the first time Butch kills anyone. They decide to return to robbery. That evening, Etta decides to leave them, sensing that their days may be numbered.

A few days later, Butch and Sundance attack a payroll mule train in the jungle, taking the money and the mule. When they arrive in the nearest town San Vicente, a stable boy recognizes the brand on the mule's backside and alerts the local police. While Butch and Sundance are eating at a local eatery, the police arrive and a climactic gun battle begins scaring away the nearby people.

The two of them find shelter in a nearby empty house, but they're soon low on ammunition. Butch makes a run to the mule to fetch the rest of the ammunition while Sundance provides cover fire, but during his return they are both wounded. While tending to their wounds in the house, about 100 soldiers of the Bolivian cavalry arrive and surround the place.

The pair, unaware of the cavalry's arrival, discuss their next destination, with Butch pushing the English-speaking and wide-open continent of Australia. Butch tells Sundance that when they get outside and get to their horses to remember one thing. Before he can say it, Butch asks Sundance if he saw Lefors "out there". Sundance says that he did not and Butch replies "For a moment there, I thought we were in trouble."

The film ends with a freeze frame sepia tone shot of the pair exiting the house firing their guns, while a voice is heard ordering: "¡Fuego!" (Spanish for "Fire!") accompanied by the sound of dozens of rifles being fired in three consecutive volleys.

Production

Goldman's script, originally called The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy, was purchased by 20th Century Fox for $400,000. The two starring roles were originally given to Newman and Steve McQueen, but McQueen left after failing to come to an agreement about which actor would receive top billing. Jack Lemmon's production company JML had produced Cool Hand Luke in 1967. Paul Newman was grateful to Lemmon for his support, and offered him the Sundance Kid role , but Lemmon turned it down. He did not like riding horses, and he also felt he had already played too many aspects of the Sundance Kid's character before.Warren Beatty was considered for one of the lead roles, and Marlon Brando, who at the time had minimal box-office draw , was considered at one point due to his role in an earlier Western, One-Eyed Jacks. At one point, Steve McQueen and Paul Newman were expected to star, and they discussed using the new "staggered but equal billing" later introduced for The Towering Inferno. Eventually, Newman and Robert Redford were chosen, but initially Newman was to play Sundance and Redford Cassidy. 20th Century Fox did not want Redford to play the part, but director George Roy Hill insisted. Redford later noted that this film catapulted him to stardom and changed his career forever.

Butch Cassidy's outlaw gang was actually called The Wild Bunch, this was changed in the film to The Hole In The Wall Gang to avoid confusion with Sam Peckinpah's recently released film The Wild Bunch.

Reception

Reviews

Vincent Canby called the film an "alternately absurd and dreamy saga that might have been fantasized by Truffaut's Jules and Jim and Catherine—before they grew up" and continued:
Even though the result is not unpleasant, it is vaguely disturbing—you keep seeing signs of another, better film behind gags and effects that may remind you of everything from Jules and Jim to Bonnie and Clyde and The Wild Bunch....In the center of the movie is a lovely, five-minute montage—done in sepia still photographs of the period—showing Butch, Sundance, and Etta having a brief fling in New York and making the steamer passage to South America. The stills tell you so much about the curious and sad relationship of the three people that it's with real reluctance that you allow yourself to be absorbed again into further slapstick adventures. There is thus, at the heart of Butch Cassidy, a gnawing emptiness that can't be satisfied by an awareness that Hill and Goldman probably knew exactly what they were doing—making a very slick movie.


Time magazine said the film's two male stars are "afflicted with cinematic schizophrenia. One moment they are sinewy, battered remnants of a discarded tradition. The next they are low comedians whose chaffing relationship—and dialogue—could have been lifted from a Batman and Robin episode." Time also claimed that the "score makes the film as absurd and anachronistic as the celebrated Smothers Brothers cowboy who played the kerosene-powered guitar."

Box office

Adjusted for inflation, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ranks among the top 100 grossing movies of all time and the top 10 for its decade, partly due to subsequent re-releases. The film grossed about $102.3 million domestically through 1974 and although no data on its worldwide gross is readily available, it is listed above Goldfinger ( ) – $124.9 million and below Thunderball ( ) – $141.2 million.

Awards and nominations

The film won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Music, Original Score for a Motion Picture , Best Music, Song (Burt Bacharach and Hal David for "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head"), and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Based on Material Not Previously Published or Produced. It was nominated for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Sound.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid also won numerous British Academy Film Awards, including Best Film, Best Direction, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Actor (won by Redford though Newman was also nominated), and Best Actress for Katharine Ross, among others.

William Goldman won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay.

In 2003, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congressmarker as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

The American Film Institute included the film on several of its AFI 100 Years... series lists:

Legacy

The Sundance Film Festival, begun by Robert Redford, is named for his role in this film, as is his Utahmarker ski resort, Sundancemarker.

Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for seriously ill children is named from the gang in this movie.

There were two made-for-TV sequels that were released in 1974 and 1976, titled Mrs. Sundance starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Wanted: The Sundance Woman starring Katharine Ross as Etta Place working with Pancho Villa.

A prequel to the film, Butch and Sundance: The Early Days, starring William Katt and Tom Berenger was released in 1979.

The film also inspired a television series Alias Smith and Jones, starring Pete Duel and Ben Murphy as two outlaws trying to earn an amnesty. It has also been spoofed in films such as Shanghai Noon and Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves, and TV shows such as The Simpsons (in the episode Duffless), Futurama, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, The Venture Bros. and Full Metal Panic .

In the 1995 film, "Mallrats", protagonists Jay and Silent Bob are constantly pursued by an aggressive and stoic mall security guard named, La Fours, who also wears a signature white Boater hat, as does Lefors in the film.

The British science fiction show "Blake's 7" based its series finale on the ending to this movie, including the main character Kerr Avon being surrounded by guards, the freeze-frame ending and the sound of shots being fired in several consecutive volleys.

The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! has an episode titled Butch Mario and the Luigi Kid, an obivious nod to that film's title.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is directly referenced in episode 8, "Time", of the 2009 series, Stargate: Universe, during a sequence in which Dr. Nicholas Rush, before leaping through an unstable Stargate, proclaims "Hey, for a moment there I thought we were in trouble".

Notes

External links




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