George Roy Hill Tom Milne - Essay

Tom Milne

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid] is a feast of self-indulgence…. [The film] is so anxious to present its characters as characters, and to let the spectator get an eyeful of their scenic surroundings, that the image of … desolation which lies behind [it] tends to become obscured.

'What happened to the old bank? It was beautiful.' These are the first words one hears from Butch Cassidy as he cases the joint for robbery, only to find it a veritable barrage of locks, bolts and shutters; and a moment later, intervening in a gambling quarrel, he warns the Sundance Kid, 'I'm over the hill—it can happen to you. Every day you get older, that's a law.' He means it as a joke, of course, but as in The Wild Bunch times are changing, the fences are closing in, and Butch Cassidy and his Hole in the Wall gang are finding it more and more difficult to live. Prepare to meet thy doom runs like a refrain behind the film, occasionally brought out into the open ('It's over and you're both gonna die bloody, and all you can do is choose where'), but mostly ignored by Butch and Sundance. They (legitimately) and the audience (less legitimately) are having so much fun that the message is never delivered.

Like Bonnie and Clyde, Butch and Sundance pursue their life of crime without malice or forethought, and there is an irresistible insolence in the way they assume that friendship is its own protection. They also see themselves as doing what comes naturally, as much for the fun of it as anything else …, but where Penn gradually...

(The entire section is 645 words.)