newman and redford

30 Days of Western - Day 2: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

or, The Healthiest Instance of Wild West Obsession With Male Bonding

Year: 1969; dir. George Roy Hill, starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Catherine Ross.

The ultimate buddy movie of all time? Probably. 

Seriously, the Newman/Redford partnership is just sooo perfect. They play off each other without outshining one another. I personally prefer Redford’s sunny hair and bluest blue eyes, but it’s just me;) And they’re so obviously happy and comfortable together. They’re like the epitome of ‘bromance’. An I don’t ship them, not even a bit… Ok, I’m lying=) I ship them like a tiny little toy boat. 

Their partnership is what makes the story so beautiful and tragic: by the end, I don’t care for justice or winning or happily-ever-after, I just mourn this beautiful happy sunny friendship. Some friendships are just as precious as epic romances, and just as tragic when they end; if Romeo and Juliet are the ultimate star-crossed lovers, Butch&Sundance are the ultimate star-crossed friends. 

Also, I liked Catherine Ross and her character: it’s great that she has an active, prominent role in the plot, instead of being just a damsel in distress or a point of tension between friends (or a fridged love interest). It is too common a trope in buddy movies: making the hero choose between his woman (=love, home, stability, sedate life) and his BFF (=the road, adventure, freedom, homosocial ghetto). Here, it is not so: she is a co-conspirator and ally to BOTH of them, and I especially loved the sweet ‘bicycle scene’ when Butch entertains Etta and drives her around on his bicycle and they look like the happiest of couples, and then you realise that she’s actually Sundance’s girlfriend and he’s not jealous, not even a little. If there’s such thing as “male/female bromance”, it was one.

As a whole, the movie is the perfect bittersweet mix of fluff and utter despair. I see how it can be watched as an easy gung-ho western action, but to me it was more about an end of an era, about despair and being alone in the world. I think few people notice that most of the actual movie time Butch and Sundance are on the run, and they are NOT winning. It is a very happy, active movie with a very tragic end which is, for all the joy before, even more crushing.

It’s over, don’t you get that? Your time is over and you’re gonna die bloody, and all you can do is choose where.”

Personal result: now I know where some of the most popular visual quotes in the history of cinema are coming from. I mean, this movie is MADE of comedy gold. I want to quote every bloody thing. I mean, really:

- Think ya used enough dynamite there, Butch?

- Kid, the next time I say, “Let’s go someplace like Bolivia,” let’s GO someplace like Bolivia.

- Listen, I don’t mean to be a sore loser, but when it’s done, if I’m dead, kill him.

But it’s not comedy for comedy’s sake, it’s very finely balanced with tragedy, what makes the movie very modern and complex.

Fav quote: 

“They got horses in Australia and thousands of miles of countryside that we can hide out in, and good climate. Nice beaches. You can learn to swim.”

I genuinely cried at this moment. 

Final count: 9/10 for the bromance, the Newman/Redford duo and the bicycle.
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Academy Awards: Best Picture Winners

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night (1934)

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind (1939)

Humphrey Bogart and Paul Henreid in Casablanca (1942)

Gregory Peck and Dean Stockwell in Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)

Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron in An American in Paris (1951)

Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront (1954)

Alec Guinness, William Holden, and Jack Hawkins in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Anthony Quinn, Peter O'Toole, and Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger in In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Al Pacino and Simonetta Stefanelli in The Godfather (1972)

Paul Newman and Robert Redford in The Sting (1973)

Robert De Niro in The Godfather: Part II (1974)

Jack Nicholson, Peter Brocco, Josip Elic, Nathan George, and Will Sampson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Woody Allen in Annie Hall (1977)

Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale, John Savage, and Chuck Aspegren in The Deer Hunter (1978)

Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, and Justin Henry in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce in Amadeus (1984)

Robert Redford and Meryl Streep in Out of Africa (1985)

Willem Dafoe in Platoon (1986) 

Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man (1988)

Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven (1992)

Liam Neeson and Ben Kingsley in Schindler’s List (1993)

Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump (1994)

Mel Gibson in Braveheart (1995)

Jennifer Connelly and Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Sean Astin and Elijah Wood in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman in Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson in The Departed (2006)

Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men (2007)

Ben Affleck in Argo (2012)

Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, Brian d'Arcy James, Mark Ruffalo, John Slattery, and Rachel McAdams in Spotlight (2015)