George Roy Hill Judith Crist - Essay

Judith Crist

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

'I never met a soul more affable than you, Butch, or faster than the Kid,' a friendly sheriff notes [in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid], 'but you're still nothing but a couple of two-bit outlaws on the dodge'…. The dodging is beautiful under George Roy Hill's direction. The man who made youthful poetry out of the New York scene in The World of Henry Orient turns a potent camera eye on the awesome vastnesses of the West, catches a quick tourist's view of New York and Coney Island and a voyage to Bolivia in wonderfully giddy rotogravure montages and—wonder of wonders these 'blood ballet' days—uses his past mastery of slow motion to absolutely stunning effect. Where the slow-motioning of death has been used with purely blood-wallow profusion in an abomination like [Sam Peckinpah's] The Wild Bunch, Mr. Hill uses it brilliantly on one occasion, when Butch kills for the first time—and we experience the slow death and drawn-out scream with his eye and ear. Sundance shoots and his victims drop like figures in a shooting gallery; for Butch there is the horrifying initial moment—and it signals the turn of the tide, the surfacing of the malaise that has been beneath the fun of the game…. But in the hands of [Paul] Newman and [Robert] Redford … and [screenwriter William] Goldman and Hill, it's a glorious game, an affectionate one—and one made meaningful. (p. 339)

Judith Crist, in her review of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (reprinted by permission of the author), in New York Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 39, September 29, 1969 (and reprinted in Filmfacts, Vol. XII, No. 15, 1969, pp. 338-39).