US FILM - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
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 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. With US box office of over US$100 million, it was the top grossing film of the year.
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."
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 "Sundance Kid" (Robert Redford). The two return to their hideout at Hole-in-the-Wall 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 his 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 brothel in a nearby town and watch, amused, as the town sheriff (Kenneth Mars) unsuccessfully attempts to organize a 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 after 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, a dismayed Sundance regards the country with contempt while Butch remains optimistic. They soon 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 skimmer 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. Concluding that the straight life isn't for them, they return to robbery, but Etta decides to return 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 when Butch has to make a run to the mules for more ammunition. 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.
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. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid also won numerous British Academy Film Awards. William Goldman won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay.