Monday, June 15, 2015

30: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

I'll say it again: I don't really like westerns. There's this one, there's The Shootist down at number 38, and that's it for the Top 40, although I will say that "Once Upon A Time in The West" came very close, primarily because of the soundtrack, and actually the brat-pack "Young Guns" almost made it for enjoyability value alone. But aside from those, no Clint Eastwood classics, no more John Wayne, nothing. Meaning, I suppose, that this one must be my favourite western of all time.

And it is good, there's no doubt about it. While critics in 1969 gave it a mixed response, and apparently studios initially turned it down because they didn't like the concept of the heroes escaping to South America, it's a strong story and fascinating (as with a lot of westerns) because it is based on actual events. But unlike your typical western, they didn't always win, they didn't always try to remain outside the law and a lot of their later life really was based on 'can we find a way to even survive' rather than the always-in-charge Wayne or Eastwood story.

And it's about the times as well - the classic bicycle scene is wonderful and of course nothing directly to do with the storyline directly, more painting a picture of the times changing. And at that same spot in the film, B.J. Thomas's 'Raindrops keep falling on my head' goes beyond the film itself and right to the culture of the late 1960s and even on to today. The final, inevitable, climactic ending - while not necessarily being to everyone's liking - does round off the tale accurately and comfortably enough that you get closure on the film and feel very much that you got to see the whole story.

Redford and Newman on top form as well, of course, and that only adds to the enjoyment. And that's what it is - a sad story about criminals and their lifestyles that is frankly enjoyable. A contradiction perhaps, but that's what films are all about at the end of the day: entertainment.

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