BP’s Top 100 Movie List Challenge #94: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, by Sarah Brinks
I decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seemed like a good way to see some classic movies that I have tragically never seen. The Battleship Pretension Top 100 list has a good number of films I hadn’t seen before so it is a good source for my challenge.
I love westerns. I love the beautiful landscapes, the horse riding skills, the gun slinging, and the idea of carving a life out the barren land or with a gun. It’s a genre I really enjoy. I hadn’t seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in over a decade and I had almost no memory for it. I only remembered the bike riding scene to “Rain Drops Keep Falling on my Head”, the iconic ending, and the train car blowing up and all the money raining down. After rewatching it the film I understand why I didn’t remember much, the bulk of the film after the train robbery is just Butch and Sundance running away from the gang of lawmen sent to kill them.
I didn’t dislike the film I just didn’t love it. I’ll start with the things I liked. One of the things I liked the best was the sense of humor that the film maintained from start to finish. Paul Newman as Butch brought a lot of that humor with his clever one-liners. One great example is the character of Woodcock who is in charge of the car on the train with the safe in it. He refuses to open the door the first time it is robbed and gets himself blown up, a little. The second time they rob it Woodcock still refuses to open the door and there is a funny exchange with Butch. The guys trying to learn Spanish and rob a bank in Spanish is also quite funny. Those parts of the film are fun and make it enjoyable.
I also like the relationship between Butch and Sundance and Etta. You see that Butch and Sundance have a close friendship with a very instinctive connection. Often a nod or a look between them is all it takes for them to be in synch. Etta is Sundance’s girl and their relationship is close but complicated. Sundance is more terse and closed off than Butch but he does love Etta. Butch is more the showy talker but is also fleeting with his affections. When the three of them are traveling and making their way in Bolivia you see that they balance each other well without ever getting into “love-triangle” territory.
The pacing was a real challenge for me. The film is roughly two hours long but there are parts that really drag, particularly during the long sequence when they are running from the gang of lawmen. While it is impressive to see the expansive landscapes and how hard and long they had to run to get away from the gang, it went on too long.
There is also a big shift in the story in the middle that I was never quite on board for. The first half of the film is about the guys robbing trains or running from bad guys then there is a long sequence of still photos of Butch, Sundance, and Etta traveling to Bolivia. When they finally get to Bolivia almost an entirely new film starts. You see how their old skills come in handy down there but it still felt disconnected from the first half of the film.
Overall I felt disappointed in the film, I wanted to more engaged then I was. I didn’t remember much about the film and I doubt much will stick with me after this viewing. It’s not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination I am just not convinced that it deserves a slot on the Battleship Pretention top 100 films.
I’ve decided to rate each film using an arbitrary scale based on the board game Battleship (lowest: Destroyer, Submarine, Cruiser, Battleship, highest: Carrier)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Rating: Submarine