Monday, February 25, 2008

Butch & Sundance Come to Millbrook

Film club assembled before the appointed hour last night so that Dong and Shazzerooneypoos could help us to eat the last of Rob's Christmas bonus turkey which has been languishing in the freezer since late December; a jolly nice roast dinner with lively conversation and a bottle of very decent 2005 Rasteau ensued.

Frankenkeith didn't make it (we missed you), so we settled down as a foursome to watch an old favourite of more or less everybody's: Paul Newman looking young and rugged alongside the more chocolate-box perfect Robert Redford in George Roy Hill's 1969 caper "Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid".

As a drama it's a lightweight piece of fluff; short on in-depth introspection, short on careful analysis of relationships. But it's very very long on great fun, wisecracking entertainment.

Newman and Redford spark off each other in a manner which suggests they were having a ball during filming (and if they weren't they're even better actors than they get credit for), ably supported with a straightforward performance by Katharine Ross as Etta Place. The locations used for many of the chase sequences are drop-dead gorgeous, the wide open spaces of Colorado being used to great effect by cinematographer Conrad Hall.

If you're after a "proper" western with any level of realism you should steer well clear of this version of the Butch & Sundance story, but to expect realism would be to miss the point. It's meant to be a funny, rollicking romp through the "wild west", with a touch of excitement but mostly with a sly wink and a decent one-liner. And that's exactly what it is.

Deservedly regarded as a classic by plenty of people who know a great deal more about film than I do, there's a reason this film still rides high in DVD rental charts. An excellent, professional piece of escapism. More!

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