Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – With the charming Butch Cassidy and the deadshot Sundance Kid as leaders, the infamous ‘Hole In The Wall gang’ are the scourge of banks and trains all over Wyoming. But when they rob the same train twice and find themselves with the best of the best tracking them down, Butch and the Kid flee to Bolivia along with Etta Place, the most important woman in their lives. The life of crime continues, but will they ever be able to shake the long arm of the law?

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) – Director: George Roy Hill

Is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid appropriate for kids?

Rating: 12

Running Length: 110 mins

Starring: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross

Genre: Western

REVIEW: BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID

Westerns are a genre that have been going for so long that you cannot help but call up certain clichés in your head. But as with any all-encompassing style, there are going to be variations within. Some are bloody. Some are love letters to the all American terrain. ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ is well regarded as a classic and for the uninitiated it may be dismissed as yet another same old same old, but, western aside, where this movie truly sits is ‘buddy movie’.

Butch Cassidy (Newman) is the plan maker and all-round smart talker. The Sundance Kid (Redford) is the sharpshooting sarcastic element who doubts his own ability to think and so relies on Butch for direction. Yes, there is the no-nonsense Etta Place (Ross) to ground them both and give them something to fight for (the usual: some land, some cattle, a simple life) but with no other real characters to speak of, the movie lives and dies by the chemistry of Newman and Redford. Especially so as the plot is rather thin on the ground (commit crimes, get pursued for crimes, flee from crimes, commit more crimes, guns guns guns).

But there is just something about this movie that oozes charm. It’s a family friendly affair with extremely clean cut brothels, no big issues addressed, and no high tension to deal with. It’s two massive, massive actors loving sharing the screen with each and quipping like it’s going out of fashion. Even for someone who isn’t a big fan of westerns as a catch-all genre, ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ is essentially genreless and timeless in that what makes it so watchable is two leads verbally sparring with the kind of star presence that you don’t get anymore. It’s Newman and Redford who make it a classic, even if the plot is kind of forgettable fluff. Watch it, enjoy the performances, and then try to forget that weird immersion breaking scene with bicycles and Burt Bacharach.

IS ‘BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

The introduction sequence is shown like old silent cinema. There is imagery of people being shot and killed in typical western movie fashion (i.e. gun pops, people clutching their bodies and collapsing). There is no blood or suffering in these moments and the ‘scene’ lasts around two minutes.

A member of the Hole In The Wall gang challenges another for the leadership and states ‘guns or knives’. One is very threatening towards the other. The battle culminates in a swift kick to the crotch and a punch in the face which knocks one party out and puts an end to the fight.

During a train robbery, the Hole In The Wall gang try to convince someone inside the train to open the door. They warn him that they will use explosives if the door isn’t opened. This then happens and the person inside is shown to be unconscious due to the blast but not otherwise hurt.

There are several scenes in a brothel. The women are entertaining the men although this is quite chaste and nothing sexual is shown. A woman is pulled playfully on to a man’s lap and later one of the prostitutes kisses a man although the kiss is tender.

A woman comes home to her bedroom and a male character is sat in the corner. She starts to undress before she notices him but he tells her to ‘keep going’. He picks up his gun so she removes more clothes. He then cocks the gun so she starts to remove some underwear. Her top is open and some midriff is seen. The man goes to her and puts his hands beneath her clothes around her back. The scene up to this point has been tense but it then transpires they are a couple and were playing around.

During another train robbery the Hole In The Wall gang try to get a train employee to open the door. We see from the employee’s point of view the sounds of what appears to be a middle aged woman being threatened can be heard. She appears scared and sounds like she is being threatened with being killed. She starts saying the Lord’s Prayer, but then in a comedy twist we see that things were not as they seemed.

Men on horses chase the gang. One is shot off his horse and apparently killed. No-one cares and instead they crack a joke.

Another scene in a brothel take place. The phrase ‘dirty old man’ is used. Butch is in bed cuddling a prostitute and both are fully clothed. She kisses him and talks about how happy she is to be chosen to be with him, before Sundance bursts in the room to look out the window. Both Butch and the prostitute continue to start taking off their outer clothes before they get interrupted. Nothing is seen and the only sexual content is the kiss.

Some characters take on a job escorting another character as protection. There is a lot of dialogue between them as they establish a rapport. Once the payroll money is picked up and the characters return back to base, one is shot off their horse and killed. The body is seen several times in the foreground of later shots. Later the characters return to challenge those who shot the man off the horse. There is a big shootout with slo-mo moments and during and after there are static shots of dead men. There is no gore or blood at any point and no character is shown to be upset at the deaths.

The film culminates in a shoot out in a town square. As before, there are lots of unnamed characters who are shot and clutch body parts before collapsing, dead. No blood is shown in these moments. Two established characters get hit by gunfire and there is some blood shown splattered on their clothes and face but there is no injury detail.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?
VERDICT: IS ‘BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID FOR KIDS?

Westerns vary in their tone and content but ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ is no ‘Tombstone’ or ‘Unforgiven’. It’s a saccharine sweet and innocent view of the western world with decent, honest criminals who only harm the ‘bad guys’. For that reason, despite some potential uncomfortableness in explaining (if you chose to do so) the brothel scenes, this is a family friendly affair with good ol’ fashioned fun abound. The movie doesn’t suffer from aged cinematography or scoring like so many others of its ilk and we would recommend that ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ is suitable for children aged 7 and above.

  • Violence: 2/5 (this is a light hearted movie and although there are plenty of gun deaths, these are in the typical classic western style with no suffering, no gloating and no gore)
  • Emotional Distress: 1/5 (some characters shown concern and worry for the actions and intentions of others)
  • Fear Factor: 0/5
  • Sexual Content: 2/5 (several scenes in a brothel, otherwise some kissing)
  • Bad Language: 2/5 (the word ‘bloody’ is used in context of bloodshed. One character complains and uses the word ‘bitch’ three times in quick succession, one drawn out use of a moderate swearword when characters jump into a gorge)
  • Dialogue: 1/5 (one character warns another that ‘you are gonna die bloody’. Some minor threats and talk of death)
  • Other Notes: Deals with themes of a life of crime, honour among thieves, trying to change your nature, protecting those you care about, talking your way out of trouble, using cunning, and the value of friendship.

Words by Michael Record

Related Posts

Share this review!Share on Facebook1Share on Google+1Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Tumblr0Pin on Pinterest0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Digg thisEmail this to someone