Saturday, May 26, 2012

Horseathon: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

With so many talented writers contributing serious reviews during this Horseathon I thought I would do one of my snarky photo reviews.

It took me about a week to think of a film to do but then I finally settled on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. One of my favorite films with horses. I mean who doesn't love a Newman an Redford pairing? Even if a girl isn't that into Westerns, well, you know what I mean. The film was beautifully shot, gorgeous scenery and the back and forth banter between the two leads is quite memorable, often quoted.  The only downside to the film was the inevitable ending. Not often are you rooting for the bad guys to make it. Damn the Bolivian Policia and their tenacity!

This review is dedicated to my father, Don, who loves his Westerns.

Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy
Robert Redford as the Sundance Kid
Katharine Ross as Etta Place
Strother Martin as Percy Garris
George Furth as Woodcock
Cloris Leachman as Agnes
Ted Cassidy as Harvey Logan
Jeff Carey as Sheriff Bledsoe

DIRECTOR: George Roy Hill
COSTUMES: by Edith Head

*Warning, This review does contain spoilers, mild language and Cloris Leachman in a girdle.

We open to Butch Cassidy, scoping out a bank. Even in sepia he's one of the finest men on the planet. (I had to get that out of the way!)

We get our first glimpse of Sundance who's playing poker. Listen up kids! Long before there was Team Edward and Jacob we had Team Newman and Redford but I'm just gonna keep my choice a secret.

Oops! He's been accused of cheating.

Clearly this stance tells us this poor guy has no idea who he's accusing of Tom foolery.

By the time he's properly introduced to these outlaws it's too late. After he gets his gun shot out of his hand the deadly duo is off. Nice known ya, Slow Draw!

And they're off. How long have they been riding? Obviously quite a long time since they've ridden from sepia into color. However long that takes. 

Butch suggests they head down to Bolivia and lay low for awhile. Sundance thinks it's in Mexico. Well, he shoots well but hopefully he won't wander off on his own. 

We get our first glimpse of The Hole In The Wall Gang. I have no idea how they got that name. They've got two shacks that appear to be patched up pretty good. Perhaps the Really Poor In Need Of Housing Gang was already taken..

I forgot big dudes name so I'll just call him Tree. Apparently there's been a change of plans. Tree wants to be in charge and they're planning to rob the Flyer Train. 

Sundance: "This guy is barely listed in the film credits."  "Just gonna stare it down!"

They obviously don't know their place or how to saw wood. Just look at that roof! I've seen less dangerous tree houses constructed by Bluebirds. Stop pointing and start fighting!

Clueless Slim over here can't see that we have a serious situation going on. He's busy reading the latest news on Butch and Sundance. Get their autograph and go hide behind a wood chip.

I love shoot outs as long as the good guy wins. The walking six paces, the slow turn then the slow motion draw.  Let's do this!

Well, it's clearly not that kind of movie. We get undressing and large knifes. This gang is cobbled together with misfits.

Butch: "If I don't make it out of here, head west and don't look back"
Sundance: "I'm going to need a map!"  Butch: "Ha! You think George Roy Hill is going to let me go out like this?"  

I'm distracted by the seat of his pants.  That's just embarrassing! 

Problem solved!  Butch learned in third grade that you can easily take a much larger opponent by using surprise and good aim. Saddle Up! 

Well, they've decided to rob the Flyer anyway. Perhaps it's just me but couldn't they have told Tree it was a good idea and had a really large scary guy on their side for the heist? 

Once Butch get's the train stopped it's time to move in. 

Union Pacific has hired the bravest sad sack on the planet to guard the money car. Meet Woodcock while you still can.

So far we know that Sundance doesn't know his geography and he's unable to calculate the needed amount of dynamite for smaller jobs. I think I now know who designed the hideaway shacks.

I hope Union Pacific has paid leave.  

Sundance blows up the safe. You know, this guy has no regard for anyone's safety. 

We head back to town where the Sheriff is trying to rally the residents to go after Butch and Sundance. Nobody is willing to join up. What we have right here is a failure to posse!

We pan up above the gathering to Butch and Sundance looking on just a few feet away. Yeah, this town seems pretty safe to me. 

Butch heads downstairs to the parlor to find himself some company. This is the saddest brothel I've ever seen. No wonder the men outside aren't motivated to fight and save their town. This looks like bingo night at my mom's local Women's Auxiliary. (sorry mom)

Sundance: "No luck downstairs?"  Butch: "Only if you need a knitted cozy for your beer!"

Butch is excited about something.

Unfit and unwilling to posse, the gathering has moved on to a bicycle auction. I feel a Burt Bacharach song coming on!

We head over to a farmhouse and a pretty little lady undressing. 

 Sundance is leering at her from a corner. Awkward! This scene needs music. Any time Burt!

 I think they already knew one another. Well, they do now.  In case he shoots her dead her name was Etta.

 Butch shows up with a bicycle. Guessing it's stolen. You know what I learned from an early age? Riding a bicycle in a long flowy dress or barefoot is really dangerous! I don't think this scene is going to end well, even with Burt Bacharach singing a cheery song.

 Okay! That's impressive.

 Try that in a long dress and barefoot. (Is there anything Paul Newman couldn't do well?)

 Butch crashes into a bull pen. Since this is a Horseathon and the bovines didn't sign a release this is the only non blurry photo I'm able to show. Cows never have been very cheritable.

 Butch: "Why not have a Cowathon?"  I don't think so gorgeous!

 When you're wirey and fast you have time to save cool inventions.  

 Etta: "Who's going to fix my fence?"  Butch: "You have one cow and no groceries."  "Top billing doesn't starve so I suggest you put your butchering pants on!"

 These two really do make a cuter couple. If only Sundance wasn't such a good shot. 

 Butch: "Hey, I've been flirting with your girl and doing tricks on this fancy new invention"  Sundance: "There's no groceries!"  Butch: "You're really going to try to pull off brooding and virile in that?"

 It's time to rob another train. I'm not sure what they spent their last money on. How much does a bicycle and a couple of beers cost in the late 1800's?

 Butch hears a familiar voice.

 Woodcock is back and he looks pretty good. 

 For a zombie! (Stay away from dynamite, kids)

 Uninon Pacific has gone and purchased a heavier safe.  If Woodcock could still smile or show emotion you would see he's pretty pleased with himself.

Guess who's still in charge of the dynamite?

These horses are either glued down or very well trained. Any other animal would have been half way to the Twenty Century Fox backlot by now. (Lookin at you Asta.)

 It's an old fashion money grab with a splinter booby prize. 

 The robbery comes to a halt as another train comes into sight. I bet it's those ladies from the brothel. They didn't look happy to be turned down.

 Oh, it stopped. I hope they have their apologies in order. (If you nodded off, wake up. Things are about to get exciting around here!) 

 Sundance: "How do I look?" Butch: "Menacing but perfectly coiffed!"

 Those are no ladies and this scene is badass!

 Apparently Union Pacific has more than top of the line safes in their budget. I bet Woodcock knew about this all along. Scaring and questioning is always a good idea before blowing everyone up. (That tips free for next time in case you make it out of here boys.)

 Now that everyone has split up we have ourselves a horse chase.  (Much more exciting than the cow chase that I couldn't show earlier)

 The ladies are still in the same spot they were before. They've added a couple under 60 though. I hope you grabbed enough cash boys. They look expensive.

 Butch grabs the pretty one! Oh, it's Cloris Leachman in a horrible wig. Really? Virginia Mayo or Rhonda Fleming weren't available?  

 Sundance: "Clearly, we need to get you to an optometrist but until then I'm going to stare out the window and think of something less horrific while you have fun!"  Butch: "I'll do ya a solid and dim the lights."

 The least sexy thing in the entire world happens next. Cloris, slowly taking off her stockings upside down.  Make it stop! (My apologies to anyone who had a thing for Cloris Leachman)

 Lucky for us the law rode through town and saved us from what was about to happen. We're back in the desert.

 Realizing things are serious and they're only hope is to go straight, they head over to a lawman's house to persuade him into letting them join the Army, hoping all is forgiven. (In case you're wondering, that didn't work even after tying him up)

 Butch has transformed into a scary eyed killa. (Blaming Cloris for this creepy turn of events! Sometimes people with really light blue eyes scare me and this is why. It's like those darn Twilight kids without the twilight or teen angst.)

Butch: "You know that script titled The Sting?..Any chance we get a break from rugged terrain and riding horses until our back ends are chafed?"  Sundance: "I can deal with that as long as I get sharper clothes and Jane Fonda isn't in it!"  Butch: "Did she yammer on a lot about giving peace a chance?"

Butch: "I might as well go out clean and hydrated!"

Sundance: "I may be terrible at directions but at least I know a mirage from a watering hole!"

Butch: "Huh?"

Sundance: "We're screwed!" Butch: "My next film is going to have air conditioning and hotter prostitutes"  Sundance: "How did you get wet?"

Off in the distance, Johnny law and his famous tracker are gaining ground. 

Further up the cliff the Hole In the Logic gang can't grasp that the higher up you climb the more likely it is there are rugged cliffs and no escape. Yep! You're screwed.

Sundance: "It's tough to make a dollar these days....I used to be able to lounge around New York apartments listening to Jane Fonda complain."  Butch: "About the war, right?"  Sundance: "Are you trying to get me blacklisted?"

Butch: "Oh yeah?..Putting up with that diva Elizabeth Taylor was easier than climbing five thousand rocks." "I'm havin a heat stroke over here!"

Told ya!

That's going to sting!

Sundance: "I can't swim otherwise I would have been in that Mirage back there. It looked refreshing!" Butch: "Man up Bright Eyes, we're jumping!".."It's in the script and the money shot"
Sundance: "How about I shoot you dead then take top billing?"

Too bad they didn't spend their money on one of those diving horses that you used to see in circuses, or even a long sturdy rope.

After a bit of water rafting without rafts or common sense the guys make it out alive. You weren't expecting the leads to plunge to their deaths with another 30 minutes left in the film we're you? We would have been left with Cloris Leachman doing a very long and painful strip tease.

Well, look who got his fancy clothes. After a night of discussion they've decided to head to Bolivia. That horse is going to be so tired. I think it's time they find themselves a map.

They've made their way to New York for a few days rest before they set sail. How far is New York from the hole they were in? Obviously far enough to go from color back to sepia again!  (I never said George Roy Hill didn't have a sense of humor)

We get a few stills of the trio playing on the beach and running around Coney Island. (It beats doing Dr. Kildare episodes, Robert Redford)

Wow! No color on the boat either? Where's Ted Turner with his horrific colorization when you need him?"

They look so happy. I'm sure Bolivia will be paradise and a quiet life for you two.

Thank God Bolivia is in color. The only way to capture all of that beauty.

Obviously none of their friends have been to Bolivia on vacation. Let's hope some gullible Bolivian is willing to trade a bowler hat for a sombrero.

Butch: "Can you saddle a llama?" 

Etta: "Ya should have saved on the budget and just left us in sepia. This is just depressing!"  (So is that color on you. Not that I'm judging)

They show up at a bank to commit their first Bolivian armed robbery not realizing speaking Spanish and blending in would make things go smoother.  (Guessing Bolivia was fresh out of ponchos and Rosetta Stones)

Etta: "I was a Wyoming school teacher so I can teach you Spanish but you'll have to teach Sundance. I just don't have the patience" Butch: "Wait! We were in Wyoming?"

The Spanish lesson goes on well into the night. Lucky for us Bolivian motels have thin walls.

Butch: "How do you say, "Find me a decent prostitute" in Spanish?"

They attempt another robbery the next day. (I can't wait to hear their new robbery phrases. I've never heard "Where is your safe, cheap ponchos and pretty prostitutes?" in Spanish)

Butch can't remember his Spanish robbery phrases. (That's a lot of pressure! I took two years of Spanish and all I remember is the Pledge of Allegiance. I still haven't figured out how to use that in a conversation)

Butch: "Any chance Etta wrote anything down, say on a note?"

Stop pointing fingers slow learner!

Etta was the look out. I'm not questioning the script writers but wouldn't it have made sense for the one who actually spoke Spanish to go inside? 

Something Bolivian bank guards might look into are guns and horses for the occasional chase scene.

You can slow down and enjoy the gorgeous scenery since nobody is behind you. You only get to Bolivia once, ya know.

Oops, sorry! Where did they come from? 

The leads take everyone out from the only tree in Bolivia. (These guys have a lot of luck on their side)

We're trying something new. 

Bank Manager: "I love your dress. Is that ecru?"

Do you really need that many policia when you're chasing a lady in a long dress and one guy who gets lost in his hometown on the way to his front porch?

Sundance: "Having money isn't easy...How do you tackle an entire pineapple but still look classy and inconspicuous?" 

We're saved from fruit debauchery when Butch spots the lawman who's been chasing them all over the US. Butch: "Damn that tracker is good!"  Etta: "Don't cry for me Argentina!" Sundance: "Who's Argentina?"  Etta: "Is it too late in the film to change partners?"

Not being able to get their disguises worked out, they decide to go straight and look for jobs. (How hard is it to find ponchos and old clothes? I know that pineapple would have been worth something at a swap meet.)

We meet Percy who's willing to offer them a job guarding bank transfers after Sundance passes a shooting test which consists of shooting an old piece of tin on the ground. (Another instance where the pineapple would have come in handy. I love watching tropical fruit get blown to smithereens.)

Sundance: "Can you believe we just got a job guarding money?"  Butch: "I'd rather be lucky than good lookin!" Sundance: "Uh, you do know you're Paul Newman right?"

We get our first mule! Ya know, mules get a bad wrap. They're sturdy, low to the ground and cheap entertainment at kids birthday parties. 

Sundance: "You do realize we're heading right back into the town where we robbed a bank?" Butch: "I wanted that job teaching Spanish to tourists. Where's Etta?"  Sundance: "She's off crying over some guy named Ecuador." Butch: "His name was Argentina!" Sundance: "Regardless..When we meet up he's toast!"

When people return to the scene of the crime it's a good idea to say, change clothes and blend in! This can only end in disaster, for everyone other than our leads. (We have 20 minutes left to find them ponchos.)

Percy gets shot right off of his saddle. These two are the worst guards ever!

Butch: "I'm pretty sure we're getting fired!"

Sundance: "I'm so hot and tired! I thought Bolivia would have resorts, taller trees, English speaking bankers and uncomplicated fruit." 

Amid an onslaught of bullets they manage to save the bank cash then throw it to the bandits. Percy would rather go out in a blaze of gunfire than give in. Oh, wait!

The bandits seem pleased with themselves. At least I think so since I don't remember much Spanish. Me comprometo allegiance a la bandera...

You're fixing to earn that cash boys! 

They threw us the money and now they want it back? (I think the Gringos are just wanting to trade for a poncho and directions)

Butch: "The audience is expecting us to kick some ass!" Sundance: "Shoot low Sheriff, they're riding Shetlands!" Butch: "What?"  Sundance: "It's a Horseathon. plus I've always wanted to say that."

Meet Slow Draw's Brazilian kinfolk. 

Sundance: "I'm going to head down to the US Embassy and ask for amnesty in the morning."  Butch: "You do realize that we're in the early 1900's now although sleeping in a damp cave without a down comforter or electricity should have been a giveaway?" 

Etta: "I thought there would be resorts and relaxation here. I'm going back ahead of you."  Sundance: "Hasta Luego!" Etta: "So now you speak Spanish?"

Our boys have decided to go back to robbing for a living. (I must have dozed off during the part where they worked at a honest job)

Time to head into town for some rest and food on their stolen horses. I'm sure that will go well since the only two people in Bolivia not after them are a hungry waiter and Percy. Okay one since Percy is now dead.

It's only fitting that a stolen horse is what get's them into big trouble. (Considering they were cattle rustlers back in Wyoming and know better they really do get what they deserve going forward)

This kids a tattle tale. I'm pretty sure that translates the same in every language.

What will you two have?  Sundance: "The fruit plate and a machete."

All of a sudden they get shot at from behind one of those tents. (If I described it would that help really since they all look alike? Pretty sure it's the tent with the sturdy table) 

Acccck! Again with those eyes!

I've never understood why people hide behind wooden furniture during shoot outs. I've seen plenty of furniture with bullet holes right through it. Just sayin!

Most of their bullets are with the horses over by the tents. Sundance doesn't look worried at all. It's made of thin wood buddy!

Butch manages to get to the horses and back with only one bullet hole. (So unfair to the livestock!)

Give em Hell from behind more flimsy wood!

Now that they have bullets I think they can take these guys. There's only about six or seven of them. Plus this film is good enough to get a sequel right?

Oh, okay! I'm a bit worried now.

This is going to make the Brazilian papers for sure!

This isn't looking good at all. The Wanted Poster must have read, Wanted Dead, Really Dead.

I'm getting the feeling the Brazilian militia has been practicing for a day like this for awhile. 

We check in with Butch and Sundance who have both been wounded. 

Butch: "Shoot me straight. What are our chances?  Sundance: "Remember when jumping off cliffs into jagged rocks seemed like the worst scenario possible?"

Butch: "I know you can't swim but how's your hundred yard dash?"

I really think they have a chance as long as their wounds don't get infected!

Holy #%@! Good Luck guys!

The role of Sundance was first offered to Steve McQueen and Warren Beauty. Beauty turned it down because he felt the film was too similar to Bonnie and Clyde. Marlon Brando was also considered for the role.

Since Butch Cassidy was being shot right next to the "Hello Dolly" sound stage at Twentieth Century Fox, George Hill assumed they could use their sound stage to film the New York scenes. Soon realizing that they were denied access to shoot proper footage, they were left with photos of the leads in various poses on the "Hello Dolly" set. (Shown during their New York trip as sepia snapshots only)

The Bolivian scenes were all filmed in Mexico where the entire crew with the exception of Ross, Redford and Newman came down with Montezuma's Revenge, which halted production for a few days.

Except for the crash into the fence, Paul Newman did all of his own bicycle stunts.

Jack Lemmon was first offered the role of Butch but due to scheduling conflicts with "The Odd Couple" the part was given to Paul Newman.

During filming, Newman had an affair with the journalist, Nancy Bacon which resulted in a separation from his wife, Joanne Woodward for awhile. (Not nice, Paul!)

The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning 4 for Best Cinematography, Best Music, Original Score for Burt Bacharach, Best Original Song for Raindrops Keep Fallin On My Head, and Best Writing/Screenplay.

Thanks for hanging in there with me for another long review. I hope you'll all check out the other Horseathon articles which can be found in the write up HERE or by clicking the Horseathon banner on the sidebar.

Lastly, were you Team Newman or Team Redford?