We destroy the things we love. At least that’s the suggestion of the opening of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” George Roy Hill’s 1969 western about the outlaw duo who robbed banks and trains before making their way to Bolivia. The movie opens in a pair of sepia-toned scenes — one depicting Butch (Paul Newman) in a bank, with bars on the teller windows and armed security.
“What happened to the old bank?” he asks. “It kept getting robbed,” he’s told. “But it was beautiful.”
As Butch and Sundance (Robert Redford) make their way back to their hideout, the film shifts back into full color. They continue to try their hand at robbery, but things are different now. Law enforcement has caught on their old tricks and are in constant relentless pursuit. Members of the gang they’re in are locked in a power struggle. Eventually, they decide the only thing to do is pack up and head to Bolivia.
The film is part of a group of westerns in which, in addition to fighting a human antagonist, (in this case, the law), our protagonists are also fighting against the forward march of time; depicted in this film as the bicycle. At the end of a sequence characterized by the tune “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head,” Newman’s Butch tries to toss it away, telling it to “go back to where it came from.” But you can’t turn back the clock.
But there’s another point in that bicycle sequence. Though some found the use of modern pop music odd in a period western, the song emphasizes that, no matter what happens, Butch is able to maintain his trademark optimism. At its core, it’s a feel-good movie, and arguably the first buddy comedy.
So join us at 7 p.m. tonight for our screening of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” presented as a collaboration between Film Quotes Film, the Arkansas Times and Riverdale 10 Cinema.