Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
Sundancekid.jpg

A 1969 Western written by William Goldman, starring Paul Newman (as Butch) and Robert Redford (as Sundance.)

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.

Tropes used in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid include:

Butch: Kid, the next time I say, "Let's go someplace like Bolivia," let's GO someplace like Bolivia.

  • 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."
  • Heterosexual Life Partners
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jump Off a Bridge: Or in this case, a cliff.
  • Latin Land: Bolivia? More like Mexico with llamas.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Newman and Redford were 1969's equivalent of today's George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: "Most of what follows is true."
  • Outlaw: Butch, Sundance and the rest of the Hole-in-the-Wall gang.
  • Prequel: Butch and Sundance: The Early Days (1979), starring William Katt as Butch and Tom Berenger as Sundance and depicting how the outlaws met. It was written by the same screenwriter of the original, William Goldman. He later admitted he only did the prequel for the money.
  • 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. This is prefaced when she states as a condition for her participation that she won't watch them die. She is never seen or mentioned again. The real-life woman vanished from history, though Katherine Ross later reprized the role in the 1976 TV movie Wanted: The Sundance Woman, in which she gets involved with Pancho Villa and the Mexican Revolution.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: The kid noticing the brand on the burro references The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
  • Show Within a Show: The silent film version of the Hole in the Wall's exploits during the opening credits.
  • 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.
  • 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?"
  • Ten-Minute Retirement: Butch and Sundance have a short-lived job as bodyguards 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 bodyguard. 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
  • 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:
  • Xanatos Gambit: E.H. Harriman baits the Hole in the Wall gang with another train, then sends the Posse after them.