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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Mono
  Subtitles
    Hebrew, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  Extras
  • 3 Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary
  • Featurette - Alternative Credits Roll
  • Production notes
  • Interviews
  • Awards/Nominations

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 106 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

From the opening sequence, it is quickly established who Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) are - they are bank robbers. Butch Cassidy is the leader of the Hole In The Wall Gang, as he is the brains behind the operation, and Sundance is his sharp shooting sidekick. Robbing banks and trains is what they do best, but not everybody is happy about it. The gang decides that a great plan would be to rob the train on its way through the town and then to rob it again on its way back. The theory behind this is that the owners of the money would never expect the same train to be robbed twice and would think it safe to load up extra money.

The plan is put into action and they rob the train again on its return journey, but something isn’t right. Another train arrives with only one carriage attached and interrupts their robbery. The door of the carriage opens and contained is a posse of lawmen led by Joe Lefors, the best lawman around. The chase is on and Butch and Sundance have to try and outrun and outwit this super posse.

"Who are those guys?"

The chase is intense and unrelenting, over deserts, streams and mountains, but they just can't seem to shake their pursuers.

The opening credits of the film proclaim, “Most of what follows is true”, this is because the main characters actually existed in the late 1800s. Butch Cassidy aka Robert Leroy Parker and the Sundance Kid aka Harry Longbaugh did actually rob banks. They were actually chased by a posse and they did travel to South America. The female companion Etta Place also existed. There is debate as to whether she really was a schoolteacher and many feel she was actually a call girl. There is also debate as to what happened in Bolivia, but sadly it seems that the truth will never be known for sure. The fact as to whether this is based on a true story or not is irrelevant really, though, as this is simply a great story.

Paul Newman is superb as Butch, as is Redford as Cassidy in the role that made him a star. They had never worked together prior to this film and they formed an instant friendship that is still strong today. The banter between the two characters is extremely funny at times and their friendship and respect for each other shines through. Katherine Ross is also very good as Sundance's girlfriend Etta and Strother Martin appears in yet another Newman film and plays his character to perfection.

Burt Bacharach supplies the music for this film, but it isn’t the standard score. George Roy Hill has carefully selected three scenes in the film where the need would be for musical interludes. The most recognisable scene is Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, where Butch rides a bicycle. Whether you like the song or not, the scene is unforgettable. Apart from these three scenes, music is not really used to any great effect.

This movie is beautifully filmed, capturing the feel of the old West. The cast is superb and the script is perfect. Although technically a western, this film offers so much more than gunfights and horses (although they are here in abundance). The comedy is very good and the chase scene is one of the longest in film history and adds great tension.

Overall this is one of the best films of its kind ever made and whether you like westerns or not you should definitely take the time to see it. If you have seen this film already then relive the experience, it is well worth it.

  Video
Contract

For a film made in 1969, the expectations weren’t too high, but thankfully I couldn’t have been more wrong as it looks better than the day it was released. Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and 16x9 enhanced, it looks simply terrific. Picture is sharp at all times and the limited colours used are vibrant throughout. The scenery is brought back to life and looks as fresh as the day it was filmed. A technique used often in the making of this film was to have lots of smoke or dust in the scene and this should have caused major problems with grain but it didn’t. Grain can be found in certain scenes, but this looks intentional rather than a fault of the transfer. The same can be said for film artefacts, they are there but there are nowhere near as many as expected and quite frankly I have seen more in films made five years ago. Shadow detail is excellent throughout.

There is no interruption from a layer change and I would suspect it is well hidden between the main feature and the extras. The subtitles are plentiful and the English ones are extremely accurate to the action and dialogue on screen. Overall great care has been taken with this transfer from a very good source copy. 20th Century Fox should be very proud of their work on this release that captures the wonderful filming of cinematographer Conrad Hall. A great example of what can be achieved with films of this age and others should follow this lead.

  Audio
Contract

Audio supplied is simply Dolby Digital mono, which is more than adequate but nothing too spectacular. Dialogue is reasonably clear throughout and there are no problems with dropout or audio synch. Overall it is a good soundtrack, but perhaps we are a bit spoiled these days and expect more. Use of surrounds would have been nice and the thought of the subwoofer kicking in during the rumble of the super posse chase would have been mouth watering, but taking into account the age of the film, the audio is more than sufficient. Quite simply, a surround soundtrack would have been great but considering it would have had to have been created from this mono soundtrack anyway it is probably best they didn’t.

  Extras
Contract

A great selection of extras accompanies this film.

Audio Commentary
This is not the best commentary ever put on a film, but proves quite interesting anyway. Contributors are the director, the lyricist, the associate producer and the cinematographer.

1994 Interviews
Split into separate sections, interviews contained are very informative and at times contradictory to each other. This is a nice feature and a great way to see how time can play with memories. Interviews are split into the following segments.

  • Paul Newman (9:55) – Talks about the film, his role, the script and the casting of the lead characters.
  • Robert Redford (10:51) – Talks about working with Paul Newman and his role.
  • Katherine Ross (8:48) – Talks about her role and events on set.
  • William Goldman (13:39) – Discusses his original screenplay and events on set. He is also known for writing the screenplay to The Princess Bride. This is the longest of these interviews and is very informative.
  • Burt Bacharach (2:45) – Briefly discusses his role in writing the musical segments of the film.
  • Maybe some of what follows is true (1:41) – This is a montage of interviews with those mentioned above and shows where they contradict each other.
  • All of what follows is true (0.48) – As was the case with the last segment, this one shows the same people agreeing on issues.

    Documentary - The Making of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
    Although very aged, this documentary is extremely informative. Narrated by George Roy Hill, it covers the filming of several key scenes and how much involvement the main actors had in changing the film in so many ways. The general quality of this feature is not great, but it is a good addition and well worth inclusion.

    Production Notes
    This is made up of several snapshots of memorandums, contracts and letters. A lot of them are a bit hard to read, but they give a great insight into the production of this film. Some of the notes are very amusing and cover items such as budget restrictions and requests for further expenses.

    Alternate Credit Roll
    Basically this is a different version of the end credits for the film. Nothing too exciting, but a good addition.

    Theatrical Trailers
    Three trailers are included - two of them run for less than a minute and the third has a much longer running time of 2:57. They are a good example of how good the transfer is on the main feature and a nice bonus.

  •   Overall  
    Contract

    One of the best westerns ever made, but at the same time so much more than just a western. If you have never seen this film then it is a must-see, as most will find something to enjoy in it, be it the lovable lead characters, the comedy, the tension during the chase scene or simply the wonderful cinematography. The video transfer is extremely good and the audio is more than sufficient, add to that a great selection of extras and this is definitely a worthy purchase.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1751
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      And I quote...
    "This classic film has been given a quality facelift and is loaded with some decent extras."
    - Adrian Turvey
      Review Equipment
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