Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

by British Film Critic

I went into this film expecting very little, aside from a fun, gun-slinging Western classic, and, whilst it is all of those things, it’s also so much more. There’s a driving, burning and melancholic feeling all throughout the film, heavily felt through the dialogue, performances and often very cleverly through the direction, that the age of cowboys and outlaws is coming to an end and that this lawless behaviour is finally catching up to our protagonists, and through this, we get a very different, very patient and very special film.

Yet, despite the grim, even existential angle to it all, it never fails to make room for humorous moments, which, for whatever reason, work wonderfully as a sort of catharsis to its otherwise very thoughtful nature.

The film makes its prerogative to not draw attention to itself – it’s not epic in its scale, it’s not grand in it’s set pieces (bar one) and it’s by no means a high stakes, fast-paced cowboy movie, but it doesn’t want to be any of those things. Butch Cassidy is far more interested in exploring the bond and friendship between two bandits, their worries, their guilt and, first and foremost, their waiting for the glorious days of bank-robbing and gun-slinging to come back around, and their existential fright that these glory days may be over and done with, and their wrongdoing may very well catch up to them.

This brotherly bond is perfectly executed by the dynamic duo of Robert Redford and Paul Newman, who have chemistry so authentic and so engaging that the film feels comfortable dedicating large portions of the runtime simply to back and forths between the two, with their organic humour and tangible rapport driving the movie.

Butch Cassidy reminded me very much of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and I can now see the countless parallels between the twos, primarily in their incredibly relaxed, laid-back and generally chilled feel to them both, up until their explosive conclusions, driven by two fantastic, timeless performances which play off one another in harmony. Watching this film had been a long time coming, but I’m incredibly happy that I did.