Tag Archives: Paul Newman

The Left-Handed Gun

Nicholas Chennault ~ April 19, 2014

The Left-Handed Gun—Paul Newman, John Dehner, Lita Milan (1958; Dir:  Arthur Penn)


This anguished retelling of the Billy the Kid story, with overwrought psychological overtones, was the directing debut of Arthur Penn and the first film for producer Fred Coe.  It depicts the usual events (e.g., the killing of John Tunstall, Billy’s English employer, and Billy’s escape from jail and killing of deputy Bob Ollinger [Denver Pyle]) without sticking very closely to the historical details.  . 

Paul Newman conveys Billy’s immaturity and poor impulse control, although at 33 he was not as young as Billy was and certainly doesn’t look much like him.  James Dean was originally signed for this role but didn’t live to play Billy.  The script emphasizes Billy’s illiteracy and certainly doesn’t make him a hero.  John Dehner’s Pat Garrett might be the best portrayal here, although he, too, seems overwrought at times.  And there are pacing problems, too.  The final scene, Garrett’s killing of Billy, takes place at night but otherwise doesn’t much resemble the actual events. Here, the anti-heroic Billy is unarmed but maneuvers Garrett into shooting him in the half light; he then falls on his back across wooden rails in a position that suggests crucifixion.  There’s also the strange character of Moultrie (Hurd Hatfield), who seems driven to mythologize Billy and then betray him when he feels himself betrayed. 


Newman as The Kid (using his left hand, of course), and The Real Kid.

The screenplay is based on a play by Gore Vidal, and maybe that accounts for some of the anguish.  In some ways it foreshadows Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde ten years later, with the alienation of the undereducated outcast.  Peckinpah’s later (1973) version of the story is more historically accurate, although it has its own problems.  In black and white.

This is an early western by Arthur Penn, who was not known for making westerns.  Indeed, it was his first film of any kind.  He is best remembered for 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde and the revisionist western Little Big Man in 1970.  This was a flop at the box office in the U.S., but was praised by French film critics.

Historical note:  The title of this film comes from the only known photographic image of Billy, a scratched-up thing that shows him holding a rifle and wearing his pistol on the left.  (Somehow the left-handedness seems to be another detail that suggests Billy was off kilter.)  More recently, research suggests that the image was flipped in development, and that Billy was really right handed.  He was still kind of squirelly and unduly given to violence, but he didn’t particularly use his gun with his left hand.

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Great Performances in Westerns, Part 2

Nicholas Chennault ~ December 4, 2013

John Wayne as The Ringo Kid in Stagecoach, Tom Dunson in Red River, Hondo Lane in Hondo, Ethan Edwards in The Searchers, Sheriff John T. Chance in Rio Bravo and Rooster Cogburn in True Grit

stagecoachRingoRingo stops the stage and the movie.

WayneTrueGrit2 Rooster Cogburn.

Wayne is the most memorable and enduring western star that the movies have seen, appearing over a long career that began in silent movies and lasted until the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976.  Unlike some other great western stars, he was always the protagonist, although a couple of his characters (Tom Dunson, Ethan Edwards) had some near-psychotic edges to them.  He seemed larger-than-life in the Wayne persona that was always part of his character in a film.  These listed here are his greatest performances, but there are others that could make the list, such as Wil Andersen in The Cowboys and J.B. Books in The Shootist.

  • In the role that made him a star, Wayne captures the screen instantly in the shot in which he flags down the coach in 1939’s Stagecoach.  As the Ringo Kid, his mission for revenge and his relationship with bad girl Dallas (Claire Trevor) dominate the movie when the titular coach isn’t being chased by Indians.  The camera loves him, and director John Ford knew how to use him well, even here in their first work together. 
  • It wasn’t just Ford; Wayne’s work with other directors could be excellent as well.  For example, as the obsessive Tom Dunson, his relationship with foster son Matthew Garth (Montgomery Clift, in his first and one of his best roles) is the backbone of Red River, directed by Howard Hawks.  He’s John Wayne clear through, but his behavior is edgy and uncertain enough that we’re not quite sure how the conflict will end.  That’s good writing and directing, too.  All of this worked together to make the first great cattle drive western, with John Wayne at the heart of it.
  • Hondo Lane is an ill-tempered Arizona scout who puts up with no nonsense and is all business, even in his relationship with Geraldine Page and her son.  Although he had used a longarm to good effect in Stagecoach, his seeming familiarity with a rifle in this role was even more natural.  (It became an integral part of Wayne’s performance as John T. Chance in Rio Bravo, as well.)  He carries the movie, as he usually did, and this excellent performance tends to be underrated in part because this 3D movie wasn’t readily available for viewing for several decades after its release, when the short-lived 3D fashion of the early 1950s had faded.
  • The occasionally irrational and always obsessive Ethan Edwards in The Searchers is nevertheless the character who captures us and carries us through his odyssey in pursuit of a niece taken by Comanches.  His towering obsession is rivaled by the magnificent landscape of Monument Valley, but he stands up to it with a compelling performance for a great director (John Ford again).  One of the iconic shots at the end of the movie shows Ethan Edwards silhouetted in a cabin doorway, holding his left elbow with his right hand before he turns and walks back out into the sunlight.  And we’re not sure to what future.  (Wayne said the pose was an homage to his mentor Harry Carey, whose widow Olive and son Harry Jr. were part of the cast here.)
  • In his second western with director Howard Hawks, Wayne carries the story in Rio Bravo as Sheriff John T. Chance, under siege much of the movie.  He faces bad guys who have much greater numbers and resources, while he has only a drunken deputy (Dean Martin), a gimpy jailor (cackling Walter Brennan) and a very young gunman (Ricky Nelson) to stand with him.  He even makes the May-December romance with a much younger Angie Dickinson seem reasonable.  Here, as in some other films, Wayne was more convincing with a rifle than with a pistol, especially as he got older.  And he was beginning to age when he made this movie.  Wayne played the same character in two more Hawks remakes, with progressively worse results each time.
  • His best acting was arguably in Red River and The Searchers, but he won his Best Actor Academy Award for Rooster Cogburn in True Grit.  As an aging, one-eyed, drunken U.S. marshal for Judge Isaac Parker, he leads a small party into the Indian Territory in search of a murderer and other miscreants.  One of the defining moments of his career in film takes place in a mountain meadow, where the indomitable Rooster Cogburn, facing off alone against four outlaws on horseback, shouts his challenge “Fill your hand, you son-of-a-bitch!”, takes his horse’s reins in his teeth and charges, firing a pistol in one hand and a rifle in the other.  Thrilling stuff.  Good writing and direction, too.  It’s interesting to compare Wayne’s version of the character with the Cogburn played 40 years later by another excellent actor, Jeff Bridges.

HC Butch Cassidy Newman.jpgButchCassidy

Newman as Butch, and the real Butch Cassidy.

Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Always a superb actor, Newman brought an elusive quality to most of his performances and played all over the map as the roles required.  He didn’t make many westerns, but in one of the greatest he restored the almost-forgotten outlaw Butch Cassidy’s mythology as a likeable western Robin Hood.  Especially effective because of good directing, a legendarily great screenplay by William Goldman, excellent cinematography, a notable score and a balancing performance by Robert Redford, Newman’s Cassidy is nevertheless what moves the film, especially in the first half.  The chemistry between Newman and Redford is probably the most significant element in making the movie compelling.  For another really good performance in a western, see Newman in Hombre.


Redford as Sundance, and the real Harry Longabaugh

Robert Redford as the Sundance Kid in Butch Cassidy and Jeremiah Johnson in Jeremiah Johnson

Redford was one of the greatest movie stars of his generation, and his natural reticence plays well in westerns that are written with due regard for the taciturn nature of many real westerners.  A native westerner himself, Redford could play them well.  It would have been good to see him in more westerns, but after the early part of his career, such films were no longer in cinematic fashion.  He can be seen in westerns with a modern setting and a concern for social attitudes:  The Electric Horseman (1979) and The Horse Whisperer (1998). And he directed and narrated a beautiful film about the 1920s modern west in A River Runs Through It (1992).

  • As the less talkative, better-shooting half of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Redford’s Sundance is engraved on the memories of those who love westerns.  Two of the best Sundance moments of the movie:  The initial scene, shot in sepia tones, where Sundance is at a card table, accused of cheating.  The setup is brilliant at revealing elements of both Butch and Sundance’s characters and establishing Sundance’s reputation.  And in Bolivia as the pair is trying out for jobs as payroll guards, when Strother Martin as the “colorful” mine manager asks for a demonstration of shooting ability.  Inexplicably, Sundance misses badly.  He asks, “Can I move?”  “What do you mean, move?”  “I’m better when I move.”  And with that he draws, shoots and hits the target multiple times within what seems like a heartbeat.  He was born for the role.


Redford as Jeremiah Johnson, and the real Liver-Eating Johnston.

  • Not as heralded these days but even more difficult was Redford’s performance as Jeremiah Johnson, mountain man extraordinaire.  There’s not a lot of dialogue, Redford is alone on the screen much of the time, and he has to carry the movie himself.  He does.  The silences seem part of the story, and he’s very effective in the action sequences, although he doesn’t have the imposing physical size of the historical Johnson.  He makes relationships seem convincing with few words, on those few occasions when he forms them.  There’s good directing at work here, but the film depends on Redford’s performance.


Robert Duvall as Gus McCrae in Lonesome Dove and Mac Sledge in Tender Mercies

Both of these roles now seem unimaginable in other hands.  Duvall is one of the pre-eminent actors of his time, and not as a conventional leading man.  He could be on this list for his performances as Boss Spearman in Open Range and Print Ritter in Broken Trail as well.

  • Gus McCrae is the more loquacious of the two ex-Texas rangers around whom the epic Lonesome Dove revolves, and he carries more than his share of the action.  He’s garrulous and compelling, and it’s especially his relationships (with Diane Lane and Anjelica Huston) that interest us.  He’s more engaged than Call with the black-hearted Indian outlaw Blue Duck, and he and Tommy Lee Jones (as Woodrow Call) balance each other nicely.  Lonesome Dove might have been made for television, but Duvall himself sees this as his defining performance.   For Duvall as similar characters leading trail drives, see the other two in what Duvall refers to as his western trail-boss trilogy, Open Range and Broken Trail.
  • As alcoholic country singer Mac Sledge in Tender Mercies, Duvall won an Academy Award as Best Actor.  He’s convincing in a May-December relationship with Tess Harper, and he’s great at bringing us along as he sobers up and establishes a new family in which he’s only one of the wounded spirits.  It’s a terrific performance in a very good movie, not seen often enough.  For a comparable performance by another actor in a similar role, see Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart.  For another similarly great performance by Duvall, albeit in a non-western, see The Apostle.


Tommy Lee Jones as Woodrow Call in Lonesome Dove

Younger than Duvall, Jones nevertheless was persuasive as Woodrow Call, Gus McCrae’s long-time friend, co-Texas ranger and ranching partner.  A native Texan, Jones as Call embodied the taciturn, emotionally-repressed man of action.  It’s one of the high points in his career.  One stand-out moment:  As a mounted cavalryman in a Nebraska cow town starts to beat young cowhand Newt with a whip, Call spies the action from down the street.  Without a wasted motion, he bounds onto his horse (the Hell-Bitch), rides her full-tilt into the cavalryman and his mount and starts beating him bloody with a branding iron.  His explanation when finally pulled off by McCrae?  “I can’t abide rude behavior in a man.”  Grizzled and unhesitating, he’s a fit companion and complement to McCrae.  James Garner takes the role of an older Call in Streets of Laredo, and, although the material isn’t as strong as Lonesome Dove, he’s surprisingly good, too.  For other good Jones performances, see him as the long-lost half-Indian father in The Missing, as Hewey Calloway in The Good Old Boys (MfTV, 1995), and as the world-weary modern Texas sheriff in No Country for Old Men.

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Nicholas Chennault ~ October 25, 2013

Hombre—Paul Newman, Richard Boone, Diane Cilento, Fredric March, Martin Balsam, Barbara Rush, Cameron Mitchell, Peter Lazer, Margaret Blye (1967; Dir:  Martin Ritt)


A grim variation on Stagecoach, in which a number of strangers are thrown together on a stagecoach, and social prejudices and real personalities are revealed as the stage is under attack.  In this case, based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, the attack comes from bandits instead of Indians.

hombreRussellIndian Russell as Apache.

The credit sequence is excellent, with old photographs (apparent or real) of the desert west and Apaches accompanied by music (by David Rose) which is not overtly “western.”  The hombre of the title is a man who looks like an Indian (long hair, Apache headband) but is obviously a white man.  He is John Russell (Paul Newman), abducted by Apaches as a child and raised by them.  When eventually rescued and adopted by a white man, he went back to the Apaches and served among the police on the San Carlos reservation.  As he meets with station manager Henry Mendez (Martin Balsam in dark makeup) in a cantina, two Apaches who came with him are taunted by crass cowboys, and Russell takes decisive and quick action so we see his capabilities early.  His white foster father has died and left him a boarding house run by Jessie (Diane Cilento), a widow of a certain age and experience who is capable at the business and is sharing a bed with the local sheriff, Frank Braden (Cameron Mitchell).  Russell, who has cut his hair and now looks completely white, checks out the house but decides to sell it.  Jessie is therefore out of a job and pushes Braden to marry her.  He, however, feels at a dead end himself at 40 and refuses. 

The local stage line is shutting down, but a wealthy woman and her much older husband, Audra and Dr. Alex Favor (Barbara Rush and Fredric March in one of his last roles), buy a wagon and hire Mendez to drive it to Bisbee with whoever else wants to go.  That includes Russell, Jessie, an ex-soldier, young Billy Lee Blake (Peter Lazer) and his discontented new wife Doris (Margaret Blye).  A rough Cicero Grimes (Richard Boone, in his bad guy mode) intimidates the unarmed soldier into giving him his place in the stage.  The question is developing:  What do people owe each other?  Russell is alienated from white people and takes no responsibility or action for others, even though he’s obviously the most competent.  What will it take for him to act, as he did early in the movie for his Indian friends?


As the stage makes its way on a little-used road past a mine, the cultured Favors object to sharing the stage with the ex-Indian Russell, and he moves to the top with Mendez rather than force the issue.  At a mountain pass, the stage is stopped by bandits who rob it.  They are looking in particular for $12,000 that Dr. Favor has stolen from the San Carlos agency, where he was the Indian agent.  The outlaws include former sheriff Braden, obviously branching out into a new career.  Jessie:  “Frank, what are you doin’?”  Braden:  “Goin’ bad, honey.”  Grimes is in fact the outlaws’ leader.  Grimes forces Audra Favor to go with them; as it becomes obvious her husband will take no action, she accedes with a certain brittle grace.  Grimes, Audra and a Mexican pistolero (Frank Silvera) move off down the trail as Braden and Lamar Dean (David Canary) puncture one of the passengers’ two water bags.  Russell finds his bedroll atop the stage, pulls out his rifle and quickly kills Lamar and Braden and takes off up the mountain with Favor’s stolen money.  The rest of the passengers follow.  His problem is that although he is the only one in the passenger group competent with guns and violence, all of Grimes’ band are.

Russell sets up an ambush with Mendez, which results in the pistolero getting shot in the gut.  As the group makes its way on foot back to an abandoned mine, Favor repeatedly shows himself to be unreliable and Russell expels him in the desert.  Nevertheless, they all make it to the mine.  So do Grimes and the pistolero, who seems in surprisingly good shape for one who is gut shot.  Jessie gives their presence away while trying to help Dr. Favor.  When Grimes comes to parley, Russell shoots him twice.  The Mexican ties Audra Favor out in the sun, where she won’t survive long.  The passengers debate who should help her, although Russell makes it clear that if anyone takes down the money, Grimes and the Mexican will kill both Audra and her rescuer.  The debate that has been building through the movie about what people owe each other comes to a head as Jessie seems to be the only one with enough courage to try to help. 

HombreCicero Boone as Cicero Grimes

Unexpectedly, Russell takes on that role, leaving his rifle with Billy Lee to take out the Mexican as he comes out and tries to kill Russell.  He walks down the hill, releases Audra (who starts slowly up the hill) and tosses the saddlebags to Grimes.  Grimes finds the bags are stuffed with clothes.  Russell shoots Grimes and the Mexican but is shot twice himself.  Billy Lee was unable to shoot because Audra was in his line of fire.  In the end, the only Christian in the group was the one who was not Christian.  And he was the only one of the passengers to die.  His dead face in the last shot morphs into the blurry face of an Indian child in one of the old photographs.  (The photograph is said to be by C.S. Fly of Jimmy “Santiago” McKinn, captured by Geronimo’s Apaches in 1885 and assimilated into the tribe before Geronimo’s surrender to Crook in 1886.)  There does seem to have been a third bandit at the mine who is never accounted for.


1885:  Eleven-year-old Jimmy “Santiago” McKinn with Apaches upon his recapture.

Blue-eyed Paul Newman is excellent as Russell.  He mostly is impassive, as he is supposed to be.  The way he stands, especially the way he holds his rifle, seem Indian.  The tiny red feather attached to his hat band is a nice touch.  Diane Cilento as Jessie is also excellent, with some of the best lines in a literate, sometimes philosophical, screenplay by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank.  Married to each other; the pair often worked with director Ritt and also wrote Hud, The Cowboys, The Spikes Gang and Murphy’s Romance and the story for Ten Wanted Men.   One wonders if Russell and Jessie will somehow end up together.  Fredric March at 70 is smooth and slimy as Favor; he gives Favor more layers and much more interest than the corrupt banker in Stagecoach has.  Barbara Rush is very good as his wife Audra, dealing with her cushy life falling apart.  Richard Boone is superb as the villain Cicero Grimes, although he’s mostly deadly and threatening and not as silky as he sometimes could be.


This is often talky for a western, but not too talky (better, for example, than some of Richard Brooks’ work in this respect).  Ultimately, though, Russell is too impenetrable a character and makes a not-entirely-satisfactory Christ figure (one who voluntarily dies for the sins of others).  While he’s the character we most identify with, and the movie sets up the question of how he will deal with the situation, the answer turns out to be that he can’t.  And that’s ultimately a disappointment.  We don’t really know why he does what he does at the end.  In some ways we could deal with that if he survived and was still working things out, but it’s harder if he doesn’t survive and we still don’t quite see the whole picture.  It’s slow developing and the end is not entirely satisfying.  Not that Russell had to beat the bad guys; he did, after all, in a way.  We just need to see a bit more of why to make the end worthwhile.  The end as shown is very downbeat.  Paul Newman, then at the peak of his career, would end up dead in his next western, too:  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  This just misses being on the list of great westerns, but it’s very worth watching.

Director Ritt was not particularly known for westerns; more for his work with Newman.  This was the last of six films Ritt and Newman made together.  Ritt directed modern westerns Hud and Murphy’s Romance, though.  The Ravetch-Frank writing team produced a marvelous screenplay, with many memorable lines.  Russell to Grimes, after Grimes has delivered his ultimatum at the mine while Russell stands silently behind Mendez:  “Hey, I got a question.  How are you goin’ to get back down that hill?”  The cinematographer was the legendary James Wong Howe.  Shot in color in several locations in Arizona, including Coronado National Forest, the Helvetia mine in Pima County, and Old Tucson.


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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Nicholas Chennault ~ August 27, 2013

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid—Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross (1969; Dir:  George Roy Hill)

While True Grit in the same year was a backward-looking western playing off the traditions of the genre, Butch Cassidy looks ahead.  The language and humor are modern, and were more revolutionary when this movie was released than they seem now.  There are more overtly and self-consciously cinematic techniques used.  For example, the movie occasionally slides into sepia tones to reproduce the effects of old photographs; it even opens with such a sequence as it introduces Butch and Sundance to us.  And the “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” interlude where Butch rides a bicycle and frolics with Etta Place and a belligerent bull is reminiscent of the singing scene from Rio Bravo, although Burt Bacharach’s music here is better, if more irrelevant to what’s going on in the rest of the movie.  The soundtrack was immensely popular in its time, and the “Raindrops” song won an Oscar for Best Song.


Paul Newman, of course, plays Butch Cassidy and Robert Redford is the Sundance Kid.  They were so good in these roles that they touched off a vogue in “buddy” movies, where the primary relationship was a friendship between two males.  The peak of this trend was 1973’s The Sting with the same stars and director, which won the Best Picture Academy Award.  Butch Cassidy is so enjoyable that it has a lot of re-watchability.  For someone who is not familiar with westerns, this movie might be a good place to start.

The plot deals with the late stages of the career of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang.   Historically, it was sometimes called the Wild Bunch, not to be confused with the fictional outlaws in the Peckinpah movie with that title or with the Doolin-Dalton gang based in Oklahoma, sometimes referred to by that name.  The gang is led by mastermind Butch Cassidy, who is slowly coming to the conclusion that there isn’t much future in the train-robbing business at the end of the 19th century, as the railroads devote more resources to his capture and become better at pursuing him. 

The movie opens with two brilliant sequences.  First, with the opening credits, is a pseudo-version of The Great Train Robbery, followed by a sepia-toned card game that establishes the tone for the movie with its dialogue, as well as setting the characters for Butch and Sundance.  As the movie goes to full color, it features two actual train robberies and their aftermath.  Butch and Sundance escape their relentless pursuers, but only with great difficulty.  They take temporary refuge with Etta Place, a rural school teacher and the girlfriend of Sundance, with whom Butch enjoys the musical bicycle interlude.  Etta is played by the luminous Katharine Ross, then best known for her breakthrough role a couple of years earlier in The Graduate.  (These two movies represent the peak of her cinematic career.)  And Etta doesn’t come between Butch and Sundance.


Foolin’ around, during a musical interlude that shows off the David-Bacharach music but doesn’t do much to advance the plot.

Using their ill-gotten train-robbery gains, the trio stops in New York to see the sights on the way to South America.  They travel to Bolivia and try to go straight, but that doesn’t work for them and they take up bank robbery again as Los Bandidos Yanquis.  Eventually tracked down by the Bolivian army in the small town of San Vicente, they shoot it out, ending the movie with the famous final freeze-frame shot of the wounded Butch and Sundance emerging with guns blazing from the room where they’ve taken cover.  For many, it’s a more effective end for characters we’ve come to care about than the final slow-motion violence of The Wild Bunch or Bonnie and Clyde.

Butch was an immensely attractive character, both in real life and as portrayed by Newman in this movie.  It is now hard to imagine anybody but Redford as Sundance, although the role reportedly almost went to Steve McQueen.  Newman and Redford are very persuasive, both in their individual roles and as friends.  The cast is excellent, top to bottom.  Ross is very good, although there are times when her character seems extraneous.  The various members of the gang are very good, too, although Ted Cassidy is physically much larger than the actual Harvey Logan, the meanest and perhaps most dangerous man in the gang.  (See the famous photograph of the bunch taken in Fort Worth, where Harvey Logan appears much more innocuous.)  Strother Martin makes a memorable appearance as a “colorful” Bolivian mine manager.  Jeff Corey, who was the killer Tom Chaney in True Grit, is a sympathetic sheriff here.  This was also the film debut of Ross’s future husband, Sam Elliott, but he’s hard to spot.


The famous photograph of the Wild Bunch taken in Fort Worth in 1901, with Sundance in the left front and Butch in the right front.  Harvey Logan is standing on the right.

There is violence in this movie, and not just from blowing up safes and railroad cars.  Aside from all the shooting in the final scene, there is also a scene where Butch and Sundance take back from Bolivian bandits the mine payroll they were hired to protect.  In Bonnie and Clyde fashion, the shootout and the resulting deaths are in slow motion–except here the slow motion is stopped with the hail of bullets, so the last image of the two is of them in action.


Butch and Sundance take on the Bolivian army.

The script by William Goldman (The Princess Bride) is an acknowledged gem, and it won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay.  Lines from it are bandied between aficionados of the genre:  “Rules, in a knife fight?”  “Can I move?  I’m better when I move.”  “Woodcock, is that you?”  “Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?”  “You just keep thinkin’, Butch.  That’s what you’re good at.”  “If he’d just pay me what he’s spending to make me stop robbing him, I’d stop robbing him.”  “Who are those guys?”  “Boy, I got vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.”  The squabbling of Butch and Sundance sometimes sounds like an old married couple, but it’s effective.  The film was included at no. 73 on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest American films of all time (http://www.afi.com/100years/movies10.aspx).


As with True Grit, much of the movie was shot in Colorado; the Bolivian scenes were shot in Mexico.  The cinematographer was the excellent Conrad Hall, who won the Oscar for Best Cinematography for his work here.  The movie was nominated for Best Picture but lost to Midnight Cowboy.



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