Friday, July 27, 2012

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Hill. 1969)

 "Boy, I got vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals."

Even as a huge movie buff it is not always easy to keep my movie-watching at a steady pace. It has been far too long since I have watched a good movie, and even longer since I wrote about one of the movies that I’ve watched. Though it would not necessarily be hard to remedy my situation, I have sort of become engulfed in the world of Heavy Rain. If you have never played it, you should. It is better than most movies I have seen. Either way, instead of writing about a movie I recently watched I am going to write about a movie that I have seen a million times. It also happens to be a movie that I do not really like for a number of reasons. 

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is based mostly on the true story of the famous bank robbers of the same name. It stars one of the most charismatic duos in the history of American cinema, Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The acting in this movie is impeccable. Newman is smooth, compelling and, at times hilarious as Butch Cassidy. He is a man who needs brains to make up for his considerable lack of brawn. If I were going to be an outlaw, I would probably be a lot like Butch. 

Redford plays a much different type of outlaw in the Sundance Kid. The viewer is introduced to the Kid in a bar during a rousing game of cards after which he is accused of cheating. The accuser tries to intimidate the Kid as Butch pretends to be concerned. All of a sudden, the man realizes who he is messing with.“I didn’t know you were the Sundance Kid”. He immediately starts singing a different tune. Sundance’s gun work is unparalleled and he proves that very early in the movie. The characters are perfectly defined for the audience in the first few scenes. So, acting is good and character development is on par. So why do I believe this movie is one of the most overrated in history? Well…

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is mind-numbingly boring and uneventful. Nothing happens after the first hour! After the great scene around the card game there is my favorite part of the movie; Butch has to quell an attempted revolt in his gang. Here we have the only considerable laughs in the entire production. I might go as far as to recommend turning off your television at the end of that scene. It almost seems like William Goldman’s screenplay was only a few pages long and the people making the film had to make the rest of it up on the spot. And even after giving them that much benefit of the doubt, the movie is STILL sleep-inducing.

There is some shining moments in the middle of the movie. There is a funny scene in which Butch and his gang blow up a train car inhabited by an extremely over-dedicated employee. There is also a laughably bad bike riding montage that happens over the sultry sounds of "Rain Drops Keep Falling on My Head". Maybe the latter is laughs for the wrong reasons, but at least it is SOMETHING! The rest of the movie lacks even the least interesting somethings. The man who owns the exploded train hires a super-posse to chase the outlaws. And that is what they do – they chase Butch and the Kid. They NEVER stop chasing them. The last half of the movie is practically watching the outlaws climb mountains and run from the posse. That’s it. That’s all that happens – minus a short and equally boring stint in Bolivia. 

What can usually make a boring movie seem interesting? You are correct, an exciting score. Not only is the score, written by Burt Bacharach, not exciting but it is also extremely hokey and goofy. The music is so out of place that it makes the film seem insulting to itself. Like, maybe Hill knew the dialogue and plot were lacking so he decided to make fun of his own production. That is the only thing I can think of that would excuse the awful use of music in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Of course there is always the chance that the movie has just dated extremely poorly. In 1970 it was nominated for 7 Academy Awards and even won awards for its worst qualities – music and screenplay. It may also struggle in historical comparison to much better movies like Bonnie and Clyde. If I had a time machine I would, among other things, go back and suggest this movie never be made. It isn’t THAT bad, but it very much is THAT boring and ultimately pointless. The violence is forced, the dialogue is out of place and the story is stale after the first forty minutes. The whole thing looks, feels and sounds cheesy.  

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: C-

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