Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid [1969]

This 1969 film has never lost its popularity or its unusual appeal as a star-driven Western that tinkers with the genre's conventions and comes up with something both terrifically entertaining and--typical of its period--a tad paranoid. Paul Newman plays the legendary outlaw Butch Cassidy as an eternal optimist and self-styled visionary, conjuring dreams of banks just ripe for the picking all over the world. Robert Redford is his more levelheaded partner, the sharpshooting Sundance Kid. The film, written by William Goldman (The Princess Bride) and directed by George Roy Hill (The Sting), basically begins as a freewheeling story about robbing trains but soon becomes a chase as a relentless posse--always seen at a great distance like some remote authority--forces Butch and Sundance into the hills and, finally, Bolivia. Weakened a little by feel-good inclinations (a scene involving bicycle tricks and the song "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" is sort of Hollywood flower power), the movie maintains an interesting tautness, and the chemistry between Redford and Newman is rare. (A factoid: Newman first offered the Sundance part to Jack Lemmon.) --Tom Keogh

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