AFI #73: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Who are those guys?

It’s always a treat to watch one of my favorite movies and such was the case today when I watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for the umpteenth time. There’s a big difference between what the American Film Institute says are the 100 best American films and what I call my favorite films of all time, but in this case both are true. Of course, if it were my list the film would be among the top 10 of all time.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is one of my favorite films for a lot of reasons, but first among them is that Paul Newman and Robert Redford are brilliant together in this film. The film is the epitome of the buddy picture. Oh, I’m sure the real Butch and Sundance weren’t as witty as Redford and Newman portray them, but that’s history for you — Hollywood changed reality. Robert LeRoy Parker (Butch) and his partner in crime Harry Longabaugh (Sundance) have been replaced in history by Redford and Newman and I’m sure they’re better for it!

Screenwriter Robert Goldman (All The President’s Men, Chaplin, The Princess Bride) probably deserves as much credit for his wonderful script as Redford and Newman get for their roles (Goldman won an Oscar for the screenplay). The dialogue is brilliant from the very moment the film begins right to the very end. Redford’s Sundance plays straight man to Newman’s Cassidy throughout but the Kid gets his licks in as well.

My favorite line:

Butch Cassidy: [to Sundance] “Boy, I got vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.”

And here’s a great example of how the whole film goes:

Butch Cassidy: Alright. I’ll jump first.
Sundance Kid: No.
Butch Cassidy: Then you jump first.
Sundance Kid: No, I said.
Butch Cassidy: What’s the matter with you?
Sundance Kid: I can’t swim.
Butch Cassidy: Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill you.
Sundance Kid: Oh, shit…

For my money Redford and Newman are the best film pairing ever. Of course, each has made numerous great films on their own, but Butch and Sundance plus The Sting put them at the top of the dynamic duo list for me. It’s hard to believe Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid didn’t win the Best Picture Oscar in 1970 (that went to Midnight Cowboy), but it’s even harder to believe neither Newman or Redford got nominated for their roles (John Wayne won that year for True Grit so it’s hard to argue with the win). Oh well, what does the Academy know anyway!

Next Up: The Shawshank Redemption