Film: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
A 1969 Western
written by William Goldman
, starring Paul Newman
(as Butch) and Robert Redford
Loosely based on the Real Life
story of two outlaws who fled to Bolivia in an attempt to outrun their pursuers. Full of snarking, daring escapes, and a real tearjerking ending. The movie follows the Hole-in-the-Wall gang, led by Butch Cassidy, making their living robbing banks and trains. When they are ambushed, and most of the gang scattered or killed, Butch and Sundance, along with Sundance's girlfriend Etta, make their way to Bolivia where 'banks are easy.' Although in the end, things don't turn out quite as they planned.
This film provides examples of:
- Badass: Sundance, while Butch is the brains.
- Badass Mustache: Sundance sports one.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment
Butch: You know, every time I see Hole-in-the-Wall again, it's like seeing it fresh for the first time. And every time that happens, I keep asking myself the same question; how could I be so damn stupid to keep coming back here?
- Bandito: After Butch and Sundance decide to go straight in Bolivia, and get jobs guarding a mine's payroll, they wind up in a shootout with some Bolivian banditos who want to steal said payroll.
- Batman Gambit: E.H. Harriman baits the Hole-in-the-Wall gang with another train, then sends the Posse From Hell after them.
- Bilingual Bonus: Some scenes in Bolivia are funnier if you speak Spanish.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Butch is an incredibly pleasant guy. Doesn't mean he won't take certain measures if you get in the way of his robbery.
- Big Bulky Bomb: In an attempt to blow open a safe on a railroad car, they wind up blowing up the whole car.
- Bolivian Army Ending: The Trope Namer. The film ends with a freeze-frame as Butch and Sundance charge out to shoot it out with the Bolivian Army.
- Born in the Beginning of the Wrong Century: The Central Theme is seeing two Lovable Rogues pathetic attempts to cope with the Twilight of the Old West. If they would have been born just fifteen years earlier, they would have been The Aces between the Outlaws. If they would have born just fifteen years later, they would have been the Neighbourhood Friendly Gangsters. Everyone loves them but know that Their Days Are Numbered It looks like things will turn around when they move to Bolivia, which to them seems like a land set back 20 or so years from where they left behind... but Bolivia, it turns out, is more advanced than they thought.
- Buddy Picture: Probably the Trope Codifier. The chemistry between Newman and Redford is one of the best in Hollywood history.
- Butt Monkey: Woodcock, who twice falls victim to Butch and Sundance when they're robbing his train.
- Carnival of Killers: The Super Posse.
- The Chase: The entire middle third of the movie is this as the bounty hunters pursue Butch and Sundance across the Western landscape..
- Combat Pragmatist: Butch is not much of a fighter, so he relies on surprise and a tactical Groin Attack to survive his "knife fight" with the brutal Harvey.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Butch wonders why E.H. Harriman doesn't just pay him off with the money he's spending to track them.
- Deadpan Snarker: Sundance.
- Deliberately Monochrome, in some scenes.
- Didn't Want an Adventure / Be Careful What You Wish For
Butch: Kid, the next time I say, "Let's go someplace like Bolivia," let's GO someplace like Bolivia.
- The Dreaded / The Ghost: Joe Lefors, the lawman who tracks our heroes all the way to Bolivia.
- Foreshadowing: All over the movie, but this takes the cake:
- Funny Background Event: Butch and Sundance relax on the balcony of a whorehouse, unbeknownst to the Marshal across the street who is failing to form a posse to get them.
- Gallows Humour: Numerous examples, considering that they're both bank robbers wanted dead or alive (preferably dead).
- The Gay Nineties: The film begins in 1898, and is particularly well-demonstrated in the gratuitous New York City sepia-montage.
- "Get out of Jail Free" Card: Butch and Sundance desperately try to get one from a local Sheriff by offering to enlist in the Army. He doesn't bite.
- Groin Attack: Butch does this to Harvey at the beginning of their "knife fight."
- Hand Signals: During the second train robbery, when the pursuing posse appears Butch waves his arm toward the rest of the Hole-in-the-Wall gang in a "get going" gesture.
- The Hero Dies: Both Butch and Sundance themselves at the end. Probably.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Butch and Sundance. They even bicker like an old married couple throughout the movie.
- Hidden in Plain Sight: Butch and Sundance sit on the balcony of a whore house literally across the street from an unobservant Marshal trying plaintively to rally a posse to catch them.
- High Speed Hijack: The Sundance Kid jumps down from a nearby hill onto the top of a moving train, then runs along the top to the engine and makes the train crew stop it at gunpoint. Watch it here.
- Historical Beauty Update: Butch, Sundance and Etta were a bit more ordinary looking in real life. Although Sundance and Etta were pretty respectable looking citizens.◊
- I Am Not Leonard Nimoy: To some extent, Robert Redford has been cultivating this. He named his ski resort and his annual film festival "Sundance" after his role here.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty (parodied): the Kid and Etta apparently have a rather kinky sex life.
- Implacable Posse: "Who are those guys?"
- Impressive Pyrotechnics: "You think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?"
- Improbable Aiming Skills: The Kid tries to shoot a coin to impress the mine owner, but can't do it standing still. He has to quick draw and shoot in rapid succession, and only then does he blast the coin all over the place.
- Intermission: The film includes a five-minute Good Times Montage of still photos which served very little expository purpose. It is not an official intermission, but it is a great time to go to the bathroom. It was originally planned to be a live action sequence of Butch, Sundance and Etta in New York, on their way to Bolivia, using the New York sets built for Hello, Dolly!, but production delays for Hello Dolly meant that Butch Cassidy would be released first, and the Hello Dolly producers didn't want people thinking that they had reused sets built for Butch Cassidy.
- It Will Never Catch On: Initially averted, and eventually sort-of played straight with Butch's bicycle. Though he throws it away more because they can't carry it on their wagon.
- Just Train Wrong: In the train robbery/coach explosion scene, the cars are all appropriate for the era. Apart from the locomotive though, which was most likely built in 1925.
- The Ken Burns Effect: Used to liven up the photo montage that illustrates the gang's trip to New York City and thence to South America.
- Latin Land: Bolivia? More like Mexico with llamas.
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Butch proposes this to Harvey Logan, who dismissively rejects it, failing to realize that he was actually handing Butch an opportunity to blindside him.
- Lovable Rogue: Butch and Sundance are the most charming thieves you will meet.
Woodcock: Butch, you know that if it were my money, there is nobody that I would rather have steal it than you.
- Mr. Fanservice: Newman and Redford, two very handsome men.
- Ms. Fanservice: Etta (Katharine Ross) is introduced by The Kid getting her to take her Gorgeous Period Dress off.
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: "Most of what follows is true."
- Oh, Crap: When the gambler in the opening scene realizes who he was just accusing of cheating.
- Outlaw: Butch, Sundance and the rest of the Hole-in-the-Wall gang.
- Precision F-Strike: There isn't a lot of cursing in this movie, but Butch and Sundance get off a pretty good one when they jump into the river.
- Put on a Bus: Etta, who was a rather important character in the movie, who had been following them throughout the whole story, suddenly says she wants to go home. She's never seen or mentioned again. Justified, as Etta told Sundance that she wouldn't watch him die, so she leaves him after Butch and Sundance refuse to go straight via farming or ranching. The real-life Etta Place vanished from history.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Butch's exuberant scheming is nicely balanced by Sundance's laconic skepticism.
- Retreaux: The little silent movie that plays over the opening credits.
- Retired Outlaw: Well, temporarily.
- Rousing Speech: Subverted. The Marshal tries to deliver one to round up a posse, resulting in only one person joining him on stage — who promptly launches into a sales pitch for bicycles.
- Scarily Competent Tracker: Lord Baltimore, who can even track our heroes over rock.
- Show Within a Show: The silent film version of the Hole-in-the-Wall's exploits during the opening credits.
- Shout-Out: The kid noticing the brand on the burro references The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
- Soft Water: Faclitates the most famous scene in the movie, where Butch and Sundance escape a trap by jumping into a river.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: A western scored by Burt Bacharach.
- Spiritual Successor: The Sting reunited director George Roy Hill with Newman and Redford for another seriocomic period piece about a couple of guys operating outside the law.
- The Starscream: Logan, one of the members of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, challenges Butch for leadership of the gang. A well-placed Groin Attack puts a stop to that.
- Stuff Blowing Up: After Butch blows up an entire train car along with all their loot, Sundance deadpans, "Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?"
- Tempting Fate
- While Butch and Sundance are acting as payroll guards, their employer tries to reassure them about the threat from bandits.
Percy Garris: About a half hour more, and we can start to worry, as soon as we get to that pass up there. We'll be all right till then. [snip] You got to relax, you fellas. You got to get used to Bolivian ways. You got to go easy. [snip] [shots ring out and he falls dead].
- Earlier in the movie, Butch and Sundance were pursued by a posse led by the lawman Joe LeFors. After traveling to Bolivia, at the end of the film they are trapped in a room by some police officers. Little do they know that a Bolivian Army detachment has arrived outside and is ready to riddle them with bullets.
Butch: Hey, wait a minute.
Butch: You didn't see LeFors out there, did you?
Sundance: LeFors? No.
Butch: Oh, good. For a moment there, I thought we were in trouble. [They charge outside]
Bolivian Army officer: Fuego! (Fire!) [gunfire] Fuego! [gunfire] Fuego! [gunfire].
- 10-Minute Retirement: Butch and Sundance have a short-lived job as payroll guards for a mine worker.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: A cruel subversion as we discover that Butch Cassidy had never killed anyone. That is, until he went straight and served as a payroll guard. This is actually true, as Butch Cassidy was a lapsed Mormon and had strong feelings against killing. He figured God would probably forgive him for everything else as long as he avoided killing.
- Train Job: Butch and Sundance's specialty.
- The Trope Kid
- Twilight of the Old West: Takes place between 1898 and 1908.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story
- "Most of what follows is true."
- The "Hole-in-the-Wall gang" was more commonly known as the "Wild Bunch". "Hole-in-the-Wall" was the name of one of their hideouts.
- The Sundance Kid didn't grow up in Atlantic City.
- Although the Sundance Kid had a reputation as an excellent gunfighter, he is not known to have actually killed anyone prior to his final stand in Bolivia (though he is known to have wounded a few). The real killer of the gang was a man called Kid Curry. It's possible that people mixed them up, since they both had "Kid" in their names.
- The deaths of Butch and the Kid are historically foggy. There was a shootout involving the Bolivian army vs. two foreign bandits, but the bandits shot themselves and were buried in unmarked graves before they could be positively identified. (There is some inconclusive evidence that Butch remained alive several years beyond that incident, living a quiet life. But there is no particular evidence for the Kid remaining alive.)
- Worrying for the Wrong Reason: In the film's most famous scene, the characters are debating whether or not to escape their pursuers by jumping from a high cliff into a river. Butch insists that they should, but Sundance is dead set against it. Eventually he reveals the reason for his reluctance: he can't swim. At which point Butch starts laughing at him and cries: