Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Butch sundance poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Tom Beauvais
Directed by George Roy Hill
Produced by John Foreman
Written by William Goldman
Starring
Music by Burt Bacharach
Cinematography Conrad Hall
Edited by
Production
company
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • October 24, 1969 (1969-10-24)
Running time
110 minutes [1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$6 million [2]
Box office$102.3 million (North America) [3]

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a 1969 American Western film directed by George Roy Hill and written by William Goldman. Based loosely on fact, the film tells the story of Wild West outlaws Robert LeRoy Parker, known as Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman), and his partner Harry Longabaugh, the "Sundance Kid" (Robert Redford), who are on the run from a crack US posse after a string of train robberies. The pair and Sundance's lover, Etta Place (Katharine Ross), flee to Bolivia in search of a more successful criminal career.

Western (genre) Multimedia genre of stories set primarily in the American Old West

Western is a genre of various arts incorporating Western lifestyle which tell stories set primarily in the latter half of the 19th century in the American Old West, often centering on the life of a nomadic cowboy or gunfighter armed with a revolver and a rifle who rides a horse. Cowboys and gunslingers typically wear Stetson hats, neckerchief bandannas, vests, spurs, cowboy boots and buckskins. Recurring characters include the aforementioned cowboys, Native Americans, bandits, lawmen, bounty hunters, outlaws, gamblers, soldiers, and settlers. The ambience is usually punctuated with a Western music score, including American and Mexican folk music such as country, Native American music, New Mexico music, and rancheras.

George Roy Hill American film director

George Roy Hill was an American film director. He is most noted for directing such films as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973), both starring the acting duo Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

William Goldman American novelist, screenwriter and playwright

William Goldman was an American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter. He first came to prominence in the 1950s as a novelist before turning to screenwriting. He won Academy Awards for his screenplays Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and All the President's Men (1976). His other works include his thriller novel Marathon Man and comedy/fantasy novel The Princess Bride, both of which he adapted for the film versions.

Contents

In 2003, the film was selected for the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." The American Film Institute ranked Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as the 73rd-greatest American film on its "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition)" list. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were ranked 20th greatest heroes on "AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains". Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was selected by the American Film Institute as the 7th greatest Western of all time in the AFI's 10 Top 10 list in 2008.

National Film Registry Selection of films for preservation in the US Library of Congress

The National Film Registry (NFR) is the United States National Film Preservation Board's (NFPB) selection of films deserving of preservation. The NFPB, established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, was reauthorized by acts of Congress in 1992, 1996, 2005, and again in October 2008. The NFPB's mission, to which the NFR contributes, is to ensure the survival, conservation, and increased public availability of America's film heritage. The 1996 law also created the non-profit National Film Preservation Foundation which, although affiliated with the NFPB, raises money from the private sector.

Library of Congress (de facto) national library of the United States of America

The Library of Congress (LOC) is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the de facto national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. The library is housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; it also maintains the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia. The library's functions are overseen by the librarian of Congress, and its buildings are maintained by the architect of the Capitol. The Library of Congress claims to be the largest library in the world. Its "collections are universal, not limited by subject, format, or national boundary, and include research materials from all parts of the world and in more than 450 languages."

AFI's 100 Years…100 Movies – 10th Anniversary Edition was the 2007 updated version of 100 Years… 100 Movies. The original list was first unveiled in 1998.

Plot

In late 1890s Wyoming, Butch Cassidy is the affable, clever, talkative leader of the outlaw Hole in the Wall Gang. His closest companion is the laconic dead-shot "Sundance Kid". The two return to their hideout at Hole-in-the-Wall (Wyoming) to discover that the rest of the gang, irked at Butch's long absences, have selected Harvey Logan as their new leader.

Wyoming U.S. state in the United States

Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The state is the 10th largest by area, the least populous, and the second most sparsely populated state in the country. Wyoming is bordered on the north by Montana, on the east by South Dakota and Nebraska, on the south by Colorado, on the southwest by Utah, and on the west by Idaho and Montana. The state population was estimated at 577,737 in 2018, which is less than 31 of the most populous U.S. cities including Denver in neighboring Colorado. Cheyenne is the state capital and the most populous city, with an estimated population of 63,624 in 2017.

Butch Cassidy American outlaw

Robert LeRoy Parker, better known as Butch Cassidy, was a U.S. train robber and bank robber, and the leader of a gang of criminal outlaws known as the "Wild Bunch" in the U.S. Old West.

A sharpshooter is one who is highly proficient at firing firearms or other projectile weapons accurately. Military units composed of sharpshooters were important factors in 19th-century combat. Along with "marksman" and "expert", "sharpshooter" is one of the three marksmanship badges awarded by the U.S. Army.

Harvey challenges Butch to a knife fight over the gang's leadership. Butch defeats him using trickery, but embraces Harvey's idea to rob the Union Pacific Overland Flyer train on both its eastward and westward runs, agreeing that the second robbery would be unexpected and likely reap even more money than the first.

Knife fight violent physical confrontation involving knives

A knife fight is a violent physical confrontation between two or more combatants in which one or more participants is armed with a knife. A knife fight is defined by the presence of a knife as a weapon and the violent intent of the combatants to kill or incapacitate each other; the participants may be completely untrained, self-taught, or trained in one or more formal or informal systems of knife fighting. Knife fights may involve the use of any type of knife, though certain knives, termed fighting knives, are purposely designed for such confrontations – the dagger being just one example.

The first robbery goes well. To celebrate, Butch and Sundance visit a favorite brothel in a nearby town and watch, amused, as the town sheriff unsuccessfully attempts to organize a posse to track down the gang. They then visit Sundance's lover, schoolteacher Etta Place.

Brothel Place of prostitution

A brothel, bordello, or whorehouse is a place where people engage in sexual activity with prostitutes. Technically, any premises where prostitution commonly takes place qualifies as a brothel. However, for legal or cultural reasons, establishments often describe themselves as massage parlors, bars, strip clubs, body rub parlours, studios, or by some other description. Sex work in a brothel is considered safer than street prostitution.

Etta Place American companion of the outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Etta Place was a companion of the American outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, both members of the outlaw gang known as the Wild Bunch. She was principally the companion of Longabaugh. Little is known about her; both her origin and her fate remain shrouded in mystery.

On the second train robbery, Butch uses too much dynamite to blow open the safe, blowing up the baggage car. As the gang scrambles to gather up the money, a second train arrives carrying a six-man team of lawmen pursuing Butch and Sundance, who unsuccessfully try to hide out in the brothel and to seek amnesty from the friendly Sheriff Bledsoe by enlisting in the army.

Dynamite Explosive made using nitroglycerin

Dynamite is an explosive made of nitroglycerin, sorbents and stabilizers. It was invented by the Swedish chemist and engineer Alfred Nobel in Geesthacht and patented in 1867. It rapidly gained wide-scale use as a more powerful alternative to black powder.

Safe secure lockable box used for securing valuable objects

A safe is a secure lockable box used for securing valuable objects against theft and/or damage from fire. A safe is usually a hollow cuboid or cylinder, with one face being removable or hinged to form a door. The body and door may be cast from metal or formed out of plastic through blow molding. Bank teller safes typically are secured to the counter, have a slit opening for dropping valuables into the safe without opening it, and a time-delay combination lock to foil robbers/and or thieves. One significant distinction between types of safes is whether the safe is secured to a wall or structure or if it can be moved around. A less secure version is usually called a cash-box.

Amnesty is defined as: "A pardon extended by the government to a group or class of people, usually for a political offense; the act of a sovereign power officially forgiving certain classes of people who are subject to trial but have not yet been convicted." It includes more than pardon, inasmuch as it obliterates all legal remembrance of the offense. Amnesty is more and more used to express "freedom" and the time when prisoners can go free.

As the posse remains in pursuit, despite all attempts to elude them, Butch and Sundance determine that the group includes renowned Indian tracker "Lord Baltimore" and relentless lawman Joe Lefors, recognizable by his white skimmer. Butch and Sundance finally elude their pursuers by jumping from a cliff into a river far below. They learn from Etta that the posse has been paid by Union Pacific head E. H. Harriman to remain on their trail until Butch and Sundance are both killed.

Butch convinces Sundance and Etta that the three should escape to Bolivia, which Butch envisions as a robber's paradise. On their arrival there, Sundance is dismayed by the living conditions and regards the country with contempt, but Butch remains optimistic. They discover that they know too little Spanish to pull off a bank robbery, so Etta attempts to teach them the language. With her as an accomplice, they become successful bank robbers known as Los Bandidos Yanquis. However, their confidence drops when they see a man wearing a white hat (the signature of determined lawman Lefors) and fear that Harriman's posse is still after them.

Butch suggests "going straight", and he and Sundance land their first honest job as payroll guards for a mining company. However, they are ambushed by local bandits on their first run and their boss, Percy Garris, is killed. Butch and Sundance ambush and kill the bandits, the first time Butch has ever shot someone. Etta recommends farming or ranching as other lines of work, but they conclude the straight life isn't for them. Sensing they will be killed if they return to robbery, Etta decides to go back to the United States.

Butch and Sundance steal a payroll and the mules carrying it, and arrive in a small town. A boy recognizes the mules' brand and alerts the local police, leading to a gunfight with the outlaws. They take cover in a building but are both seriously wounded, after Butch makes a futile attempt to run to the mules in order to bring more ammunition, while Sundance provides cover fire. As dozens of Bolivian soldiers surround the area, Butch suggests the duo's next destination should be Australia. They charge out of the building guns blazing, directly into a firing squad.

Cast

Production

Screenplay

William Goldman first came across the story of Butch Cassidy in the late 1950s and researched intermittently for eight years before starting to write the screenplay. [4] Goldman says he wrote the story as an original screenplay because he did not want to do the research to make it as authentic as a novel. [5] Goldman later stated:

The whole reason I wrote the ... thing, there is that famous line that Scott Fitzgerald wrote, who was one of my heroes, "There are no second acts in American lives." When I read about Cassidy and Longbaugh and the superposse coming after them—that's phenomenal material. They ran to South America and lived there for eight years and that was what thrilled me: they had a second act. They were more legendary in South America than they had been in the old West ... It's a great story. Those two guys and that pretty girl going down to South America and all that stuff. It just seems to me it's a wonderful piece of material. [5]

The characters' flight to South America caused one executive to reject the script, as it was then unusual in Western films for the protagonists to flee. [6]

Development

According to Goldman, when he first wrote the script and sent it out for consideration, only one studio wanted to buy it—and that was with the proviso that the two lead characters did not flee to South America. When Goldman protested that that was what had happened, the studio head responded, "I don't give a shit. All I know is John Wayne don't run away." [7]

Goldman rewrote the script, "didn't change it more than a few pages, and subsequently found that every studio wanted it." [7]

The role of Sundance was offered to Jack Lemmon, whose production company, JML, had produced the film Cool Hand Luke (1967) starring Newman. Lemmon, however, turned down the role because he did not like riding horses and felt that he had already played too many aspects of the Sundance Kid's character before. [8] Other actors considered for the role of Sundance were Steve McQueen and Warren Beatty, who both turned it down, with Beatty claiming that the film was too similar to Bonnie and Clyde . According to Goldman, McQueen and Newman both read the scripts at the same time and agreed to do the film. McQueen eventually backed out of the film due to disagreements with Newman. The two actors would eventually team up in the 1974 disaster film The Towering Inferno .

Release

Premieres

The world premiere of the movie was in September 1969, at the Roger Sherman Theater, in New Haven, Connecticut. The premiere was attended by Paul Newman, his wife Joanne Woodward, Robert Redford, George Roy Hill, William Goldman, and John Foreman, among others. [9] It premiered in Los Angeles, the next day, and in New York City on October 1. [10]

Home media

Reception

Box office

The film earned $15 million in rentals in the United States and Canada by the end of 1969. [11] According to Fox records the film required $13,850,000 in rentals to break even and by 11 December 1970 had made $36,825,000 so made a considerable profit to the studio. [12] It eventually returned $45,953,000 in rentals. [13]

With a final US gross of over $100 million, [14] it was the top-grossing film released in 1969. Adjusted for inflation, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ranks as the 34th top-grossing film of all time and the top 10 for its decade, due in part to subsequent re-releases.[ citation needed ]

It was the eighth most popular film of 1970 in France. [15]

Critical response

Early reviews gave the film mediocre grades, and New York and national reviews were "mixed to terrible" though better elsewhere, screenwriter William Goldman recalled in his book Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade . [16]

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." [17] Time also criticized the film's score as absurd and anachronistic.

Roger Ebert's review of the movie was a mixed 2.5 out of 4 stars. "The movie starts promisingly ... a scene where Butch puts down a rebellion in his gang [is] one of the best things in the movie ... And then we meet Sundance's girlfriend, played by Katharine Ross, and the scenes with the three of them have you thinking you've wandered into a really first-rate film." But after Harriman hires his posse, Ebert thought the movie's quality declined: "Hill apparently spent a lot of money to take his company on location for these scenes, and I guess when he got back to Hollywood he couldn't bear to edit them out of the final version. So the Super-posse chases our heroes unceasingly, until we've long since forgotten how well the movie started." The dialogue in the final scenes is "so bad we can't believe a word anyone says. And then the violent, bloody ending is also a mistake; apparently it was a misguided attempt to copy "Bonnie and Clyde. ..." we don't believe it, and we walk out of the theater wondering what happened to that great movie we were seeing until an hour ago." [18]

The Writers Guild of America ranked the screenplay #11 on its list of 101 Greatest Screenplays ever written. [19]

Over time, major American movie reviewers have been widely favorable. Rotten Tomatoes, a film review aggregator, gives a 90% "certified fresh" favorable score, based on 49 reviews, with an average score of 8.23/10. The site's critical consensus reads:

With its iconic pairing of Paul Newman and Robert Redford, jaunty screenplay and Burt Bacharach score, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid has gone down as among the defining moments in late-'60s American cinema. [20]

Newman and Redford's chemistry was praised as was the film's charm and humor.[ citation needed ]

Awards and nominations

The film won four Academy Awards: Best Cinematography; Best Original Score for a Motion Picture (not a Musical); Best Music, Song (Burt Bacharach and Hal David for "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head"); and Best Original Screenplay. It was also nominated for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Sound (William Edmondson and David Dockendorf). [21]

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. [22]

William Goldman won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay. [23]

In 2003, the film was selected for the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". The Academy Film Archive preserved Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1998. [24]

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was selected by the American Film Institute as the 7th greatest Western of all time in the AFI's 10 Top 10 list in 2008.

Legacy

The film inspired the television series Alias Smith and Jones , starring Pete Duel and Ben Murphy as outlaws trying to earn an amnesty. [25]

A parody titled "Botch Casually and the Somedunce Kid" was published in MAD . It was illustrated by Mort Drucker and written by Arnie Kogen in issue No. 136, July 1970. [26]

In 1979 Butch and Sundance: The Early Days , a prequel, was released starring Tom Berenger as Butch Cassidy and William Katt as the Sundance Kid. It was directed by Richard Lester and written by Allan Burns. William Goldman, the writer of the original film, was an executive producer. Jeff Corey was the only actor to appear in the original and the prequel.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch was one of the loosely organized outlaw gangs operating out of the Hole-in-the-Wall in Wyoming during the Old West era in the United States. It was popularized by the 1969 movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and took its name from the original Wild Bunch. The gang was led by Butch Cassidy, and it included his closest friend Elzy Lay, the Sundance Kid, Tall Texan, News Carver, Camilla "Deaf Charley" Hanks, Laura Bullion, Flat-Nose Curry, Kid Curry and Bob Meeks. They were the most successful train-robbing gang in history.

Sundance Kid American train robber

Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, better known as the Sundance Kid, was an outlaw and member of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch in the American Old West. He likely met Butch Cassidy after Cassidy was released from prison around 1896. "The Wild Bunch" gang performed the longest string of successful train and bank robberies in American history. Longabaugh fled the United States along with his consort Etta Place and Butch Cassidy in order to escape the dogged pursuit of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. The trio fled first to Argentina and then to Bolivia, where Cassidy and Longabaugh were killed in a shootout in November 1908.

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Katharine Juliet Ross is an American film and stage actress. She had starring roles as Elaine Robinson in The Graduate (1967), for which she received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress; as Etta Place in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), for which she won a BAFTA Award for Best Actress; and as Joanna Eberhart in The Stepford Wives (1975). She won a Golden Globe for Voyage of the Damned (1976).

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Harvey Logan American outlaw

Harvey Alexander Logan, also known as Kid Curry, was an American outlaw and gunman who rode with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid's infamous Wild Bunch gang during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Despite being less well-known than his fellow gang members, he has since been referred to as "the wildest of the Wild Bunch", having reputedly killed at least nine law enforcement officers in five different shootings and another two men in other instances. He was involved in numerous shootouts with police and civilians and participated in several bank and train robberies with various gangs during his outlaw days.

William Carver (Wild Bunch) American outlaw

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References

  1. "BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID". British Board of Film Classification . Retrieved December 15, 2014.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  2. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – Box Office Data, DVD and Blu-ray Sales, Movie News, Cast and Crew Information". The Numbers . Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  3. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)". Box Office Mojo . Retrieved February 26, 2012.
  4. Goldman, William (1982). Adventures in the Screen Trade. pp. 191–200.
  5. 1 2 Egan, p. 90
  6. Nixon, Rob. "The Big Idea – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid". Turner Classic Movies, Inc. Retrieved February 26, 2017.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  7. 1 2 Egan, p. 91
  8. Flynn, Bob (August 15, 1998). "A slice of Lemmon for extra character". The Canberra Time. Panorama. p. 7.
  9. Tiffany Woo (October 26, 2009). "'Butch Cassidy' returns after 40 years". Yale Daily News. Archived from the original on October 2, 2012. Retrieved August 26, 2011.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Cite web requires |website= (help)
  10. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid". AFI website. Retrieved February 15, 2017.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  11. "Big Rental Films of 1969". Variety . January 7, 1970. p. 15.
  12. Silverman, Stephen M (1988). The Fox that got away : the last days of the Zanuck dynasty at Twentieth Century-Fox. L. Stuart. p. 328.
  13. "All-Time Top Film Rentals". Variety. October 7, 1999. Retrieved June 27, 2019.Cite news requires |newspaper= (help)
  14. "Domestic Grosses Adjusted for Ticket Price Inflation". Box Office Mojo . Retrieved February 9, 2009.
  15. "1970 Box Office in France". Box Office Story.
  16. Goldman, William (2000). Which lie did I tell?, or, More adventures in the screen trade (1st ed.). New York: Pantheon Books. ISBN   0-375-40349-3.
  17. "Double Vision". Time . September 26, 1969. Retrieved February 9, 2009.
  18. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid". Chicago Sun-Times. October 13, 1969.
  19. Savage, Sophia (February 27, 2013). "WGA Lists Greatest Screenplays, From 'Casablanca' and 'Godfather' to 'Memento' and 'Notorious'". Archived from the original on August 13, 2006. Retrieved February 28, 2013.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Cite web requires |website= (help)
  20. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  21. "The 42nd Academy Awards (1970) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  22. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: Awards". IMDB. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  23. "William Goldman – Awards & Nominations". awardsandwinners.com.
  24. "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive.
  25. "Alias Smith and Jones". Archived from the original on December 31, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-09.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Cite web requires |website= (help)
  26. MAD #136 July 1970 at MAD cover site.

Bibliography