Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid — Review

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Here comes the boom.

25Star

by Ken B.

Early on in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, a title card informs us that what we’re about to see is “mostly true” – probably because no one really knows what happened to the actual Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The most reliable account (and the one shown in the movie) would assume that the story ends in 1908. It may provide for the most justification of its characters when you think about it.

This is the story of two outlaws, Robert “Butch Cassidy” Parker (PAUL NEWMAN) and Harry “Sundance Kid” Longabaugh (ROBERT REDFORD), who, when abandoned by their gang, flee to Bolivia. They’re not exactly sure where it is, but they figure that the local law won’t be able to find them there. Now on the run, they face obstacles and roadblocks in their trek, sometimes with Sundance’s girlfriend, teacher Etta Place (KATHARINE ROSS).

The plot is without frills, driving the story ahead for 110 minutes with some well shot action sequences, especially in regards to the shootout finale. William Goldman’s script provides decent amounts of entertainment – a combination of thrills and wit. The main characters have good chemistry, as much of Goldman’s accomplishment as it is to Newman and Redford in their respective roles. Ross, who had just come off an iconic role in The Graduate (Nichols, 1967) does a decent but mostly unmemorable job here, another supporting part.

Actually, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid isn’t that memorable a movie in general – there are moments, like an exploding train car, but it never really does leave an impression. It is disposable in a very high degree. Looking over the setup of the film, this almost comes off as more or less intentional, with its easily crackable plot and slightly shallow characters. I’m disappointed there wasn’t something more substantive, but it’s definitely possible that this wasn’t the point of the film…

(Still feel a little bit duped.)

No word pressed against Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid will ever be able to dethrone its seat as a classic of Americana. Whatever I write will have little effect on the devoted, who will look upon this review with puzzlement and ridicule. But I just don’t see the love. It’s entertaining, yes, but it’s mostly forgettable and passive except for a few notable moments (like the final 15 minutes) – good for temporary time killing but hardly the makings of an endearing masterpiece. If nothing else, it’s a film to study on what is popular in America in both 1969 and 2013.

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The Stepford Wives – Review

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3Star

by Bret W.

This review was originally published to the now-defunct website The People’s Reviews in 2000.

The Stepford Wives, for the uninitiated, is a strangely fluid tale of a utopic suburban society.  The tale itself is masterfully authored by the prince of this genre, Ira Levin, who also penned such classics as Rosemary’s Baby and This Perfect Day.

When Joanna and Walter Eberhart move from New York City to the small village of Stepford, it’s like a dream come true.  The community enjoys low taxes, perfect air, great schools, a booming electronics industry, and a near absence of crime.  Joanna quickly befriends two other women in town, Bobbie and Charmaine.  When her husband joins the town’s Men’s group, she decides that they ought to form a Women’s group as well.  However, she and her two friends discover that there is something just a little odd about the women in Stepford.  These women seem to have a strange euphoric love affair with house work and pleasing their men with no thought to themselves.  When Charmaine hangs her tennis outfit up for a long flowing dress and a mop, and when Bobbie all but becomes a poster girl for Hoover, Joanne finds herself the target of the Men’s group’s diabolical plan, to which she discovers the truth only just a little too late.

The Stepford Wives was a chilling and very timely film, made in an era of bra-burning and the ERA movement (or at least at the tail end of the bulk of the movement).  By today’s standards, it’s campy and unbelievable  but could effectively be redone in a more high-tech and suspenseful fashion.  In fact, this film is strangely devoid of any suspense whatsoever, except at the end.  It seems like we, the audience, know what’s happening long before Joanna figures it out, and by then it’s just a matter of watching her fall into the trap. The story itself is frightening and very real, along the lines of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and the anti-horror music score just serves to make the film that much more unsettling.  This film is a classic and a must-see for anyone who enjoys any good film.