USA, 1969, 110 minutes
Wed, Apr 29 / 7:30 / Castro / AWAR29C
PETER J. OWENS AWARD When Robert Redford and Paul Newman leapt off that cliff in the climactic scene of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, they leapt straight into movie mythology. The exploits of two 19th-century bank robbers who find it increasingly difficult to stay ahead of the law, the film reinvented the Western even as it mourned its passing. Writer William Goldman had been fascinated by the exploits of the real-life Butch and Sundance, and spent years researching the story. The studio intended it for Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, but McQueen balked at Newman getting top billing. Director George Roy Hill suggested Redford, not yet a major star. Redford's chemistry with Newman was immediate and launched an enduring partnership. The film's tone—at once elegiac and comic, modern and traditional—confused some critics but resonated with audiences, who made it the biggest grossing film of the year, success that boosted the careers of both its principals: Newman, used to playing brooding loners, proved he could handle comedy, and Redford became a star. The film won Oscars for Conrad Hall's burnished cinematography, Burt Bacharach's score and Goldman's screenplay. Hill moved to the top ranks of Hollywood directors, reuniting with Redford and Newman for another phenomenally successful buddy caper, The Sting (1973). The importance of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to its stars is reflected in the names they gave to their personal projects: Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for critically ill children, and Redford's Sundance Institute.