A silly-ass buddy western with inappropriately jaunty Burt Bacharach music (including a bonkers musical romance scene set to “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”). If I was watching this movie in a void I’d assume it was so tonally off-base that it diminished the Western genre permanently until it was finally killed off with Clint Eastwood’s dire Pale Rider. But no, the internet tells me this is one of the AFI’s and IMDB’s best-loved films of all time. What gives? That’s not to say the movie doesn’t have its pleasures. The buddy banter and some of the action scenes (especially an awesome train explosion early on) make the whole thing worth sitting through.
Both Butch (Paul Newman, not long after Cool Hand Luke) and Sundance (Robert Redford, not long before The Candidate) love the same girl, Etta (Katharine Ross, Dustin’s younger love interest in The Graduate). That and the freeze-frame ending make me think director Hill and/or writer William Goldman were Truffaut fans. Conventionally edited (for the late 60’s) with the deaths abstracted away, mostly happening distantly or off-camera – who’d have known The Wild Bunch came out just a few months earlier? I’d find coincidence that the movie’s anti-heroes were hunted down and killed in Bolivia just like Che, except that both movies were based on true events, so instead I’ll just remember not to flee to Bolivia if I’m in trouble.