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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

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Title: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid  
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Subject: 42nd Academy Awards, William Goldman, Sam Elliott, Charles Dierkop, David Fincher
Collection: 1960S Comedy-Drama Films, 1960S Western (Genre) Films, 1969 Films, 20Th Century Fox Films, American Comedy-Drama Films, American Films, American Western (Genre) Films, Bafta Winners (Films), Best Film Bafta Award Winners, Biographical Films About Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch, Buddy Films, English-Language Films, Estudios Churubusco Films, Films Directed by George Roy Hill, Films Produced by John Foreman (Producer), Films Set in Bolivia, Films Set in South America, Films Set in Wyoming, Films Shot in Colorado, Films Shot in Mexico, Films Shot in New Mexico, Films Shot in Utah, Films That Won the Best Original Score Academy Award, Films That Won the Best Original Song Academy Award, Films Whose Cinematographer Won the Best Cinematography Academy Award, Films Whose Director Won the Best Direction Bafta Award, Films Whose Writer Won the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award, Films Whose Writer Won the Best Screenplay Bafta Award, Screenplays by William Goldman, United States National Film Registry Films
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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
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
  • John C. Howard
  • Richard C. Meyer
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • October 24, 1969 (1969-10-24)
Running time
110 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6 million[2]
Box office $102.3 million (North America)[3]

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a 1969 American William Goldman (who won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the film). Based loosely on fact, the film tells the story of Wild West outlaws Robert LeRoy Parker, known to history as Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman), and his partner Harry Longabaugh, the "Sundance Kid" (Robert Redford), as they migrate to Bolivia while on the run from the law in search of a more successful criminal career. In 2003, the film was selected for preservation in 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 49th-greatest American film on its AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) list.

Contents

  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • Screenplay 3.1
    • Development 3.2
    • Filming 3.3
    • Deleted scene 3.4
  • Reception 4
    • World premiere 4.1
    • Critical response 4.2
    • Box office 4.3
    • Awards and nominations 4.4
  • Legacy 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Bibliography 8
  • External links 9

Plot

In late 1890s Wyoming, Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) is the affable, clever, talkative leader of the outlaw Hole in the Wall Gang. His closest companion is the laconic dead-shot "Sundance Kid" (Robert Redford). 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 (Ted Cassidy) as their new leader. 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.

The first robbery goes well. To celebrate, Butch and Sundance visit a favorite posse to track down the gang. They then visit Sundance's lover, schoolteacher Etta Place (Katharine Ross). 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 (Jeff Corey). 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 persuades 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 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 (Strother Martin), 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. The film ends with a freeze frame shot on the pair charging out of the building, guns blazing, as the Bolivian forces fire repeatedly on them.

Cast

Production

Screenplay

William Goldman first came across the story of Butch Cassidy in the late 1950s and researched it on and off for eight years before sitting down to write the screenplay.[4] 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]

Goldman says he wrote the story as an original screenplay because he did not want to do the research to make it authentic as a novel.[5]

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."[6]

Goldman rewrote the script, "didn't change it more than a few pages, and subsequently found that every studio wanted it."[6]

According to the supplemental material on the Blu-ray disc release, Richard Zanuck at 20th Century Fox purchased the script, originally called The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy, for $400,000, double the price the studio's board of directors had authorized.

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; he did not like riding horses, and he felt he had already played too many aspects of the Sundance Kid's character before.[7] 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 biling disagreements with Newman. The two actors would eventually team up in the 1974 disaster film The Towering Inferno.

Dustin Hoffman was considered for the role of Cassidy. Newman was eventually cast. Marlon Brando was seriously considered to team with Newman for one of the roles. He turned it down due to his commitment to Burn. He also felt that it was too similar to his role in One-Eyed Jacks (1961).

Joanna Pettet was first offered the role of Etta Place but was forced to turn down the role due to her pregnancy. Katharine Ross was eventually cast for the role of Etta. Sam Elliott made his debut in this film as a card player. He and Ross married in 1984.

Filming

In addition to some studio interiors and exteriors, the film was shot on location in various parts of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and for the Bolivia scenes, Cuernavaca and Taxco, Mexico. The cast and crew enjoyed the location work. Redford said: "We had the best locations possible, to my mind. We had Zion National Park [Utah]; Durango, Colorado. … You rode through that, it was a joy."

On the first day of shooting, Katharine Ross came to the set to watch the train robbery scenes being filmed. There were five cameras and there were only four operators, so director of photography

Newman did his own bicycle stunts, after his stunt man was unable to stay on the bike, except for the scene where Butch crashes backwards into the fence, which was performed by the director of photography.

The only major conflict between Newman and Roy Hill occurred over what became known as "the Bledsoe scene," a break in the extended superposse chase when Butch and Sundance go to visit an old sheriff hoping to get his help enlisting them in the Army to fight in the Spanish–American War. Newman felt the scene should come at the end of the chase and be the motivation for their flight to South America. Hill disagreed strongly. Every day, Newman came on the set with fresh arguments for why it should be done his way and with increasing passion for his opinion. "Paul was becoming almost anal about it," noted Redford, who at one point jokingly suggested they rename the film "The Bledsoe Scene." Ultimately, Hill won the argument.

Lula Parker Betenson, sister of the real Butch Cassidy, often visited the set, and her presence was welcome to the cast and crew. During lulls in shooting she would tell stories about her famous brother's escapades, and was amazed at how accurately the script and Paul Newman portrayed him. Before the film was released, the studio found out about her visits and tried to convince her to endorse the movie in a series of ads to be shown in theatres across the country. She said that she would, but only if she saw the film first and truly stood behind it. The studio refused, saying that allowing her to see the film before its release could harm its reputation. Finally, at Robert Redford's suggestion, she agreed to do the endorsements—for a small "fee."

Deleted scene

A scene that was cut from the film had Cassidy, the Kid, and Etta in a Bolivian cinema and seeing a screen re-enactment of their gang, depicting Butch and Sundance as ruthless killers gunned down by the law. As the two men watch incredulously, shouting at the screen that it didn't happen that way, Etta walks off to the station to catch the train that would begin her journey back to America. Roy Hill thought that the scene was little heavy-handed and unnecessary.

Reception

World premiere

The world premiere of the movie was in September 1969, at the Roger Sherman Theater, in John Foreman, among others.[8]

Critical response

The response of major American movie reviewers was widely favorable. Rotten Tomatoes, a film review aggregator counted 89% of critical reviews as favorable.[9] Newman's and Redford's chemistry was praised as was the film's charm and humor.

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

[11]

The Writers Guild of America ranked the screenplay #11 on its list of 101 Greatest Screenplays ever written.[12]

Box office

The film earned $15 million in rentals in North America during its first year of release.[13]

With US box office of over US$100 million,[14] it was the top grossing film of the year. 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.

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 Writing, Story and Screenplay Based on Material Not Previously Published or Produced. It was also nominated for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Sound (William Edmondson and David Dockendorf).[15]

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 Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Legacy

Also in 1969, the Spaghetti Western titled Sundance Cassidy and Butch the Kid was released, starring Giuliano Gemma and Nino Benvenuti.

The film inspired the television series Alias Smith and Jones, starring Pete Duel and Ben Murphy as outlaws trying to earn an amnesty.[16]

In 1979, a prequel, Butch and Sundance: The Early Days, was released by 20th Century Fox and was directed by Richard Lester. The film received mixed reviews and was a box office flop, but was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design.

In the 2011 movie Blackthorn, Sam Shepard plays an elderly Butch Cassidy.[17]

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.[18]

See also

References

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Egan, p. 90
  6. ^ a b Egan, p. 91
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1969", Variety, 7 January 1970 p 15
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ #136 July 1970MAD at MAD cover site.

Bibliography

External links

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