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Trivia & Fun Facts About BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID

Saturday November, 29 2014 at 06:00 PM

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In 1991, a scientific team excavated the graves in San Vicente, Bolivia, of the two American criminals killed in a shootout there believed to have been Butch and Sundance. However, DNA tests did not match that of any existing relatives of the outlaws. Some people claim that means the two men killed in the famous shootout were not the legendary duo; others say the graves were simply not those of Butch and Sundance but of two others buried in the town at another time.

Butch's youngest sister, Lula Parker Betenson, visited the set of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and became acquainted with cast and crew. She was also pursued by reporters upon the film's release. She claimed Butch had returned to the States after faking his own death in Bolivia and lived until the late 1930s. Many Western scholars have dismissed this as the fabrication of an old woman eager to capitalize on the movie's success.

Butch's sister's claims have fueled a number of stories about his supposed survival and life after Bolivia. Some have suggested he eventually sailed to Europe, got a facelift, moved back to America under the name William Phillips, married, then became an entrepreneur in Washington state, dying of cancer in 1937. Some of the evidence is convincing, especially a detailed manuscript about Cassidy which actually appears to have been authored by him. One story was apparently told to geologist David Love in the 1930s by Love's family doctor, Francis Smith. Smith said he had seen Butch, whose face was altered by a surgeon in France, and that he proved who he was by showing Smith an old bullet wound the doctor recognized as one he had treated the outlaw for years earlier. No claims were ever made for the Kid's later existence, however.

George Roy Hill began his directing career in 1950s television drama. His first feature was Period of Adjustment (1962). His last film was the Chevy Chase comedy Funny Farm (1988). He won an Academy Award for the Newman-Redford The Sting (1973), and the Jury Prize at Cannes for his adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five (1972). Hill died in 2002 of complications from Parkinson's disease.

In addition to his Oscar® for this picture, William Goldman also won for All the President's Men (1976) and has been widely recognized for his work on such films as Marathon Man (1976), The Princess Bride (1987), and Misery (1990). He is also known for writing two books about the film business, Adventures in the Screen Trade and Which Lie Did I Tell?.

Cinematographer Conrad Hall (1926-2003) began as a camera operator on East of Eden (1955) and quickly became one of the most sought-after directors of photography in the business. In addition to his Academy Award for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, he was nominated nine other times, winning for American Beauty (1999) and his last feature, Road to Perdition (2002), which also starred Paul Newman. He also photographed Newman in Harper (1966) and Cool Hand Luke (1967).

Sam Elliott made his feature film debut as one of the card players in Sundance's introductory scene. He and Katharine Ross (Etta Place) had no scenes together and did not meet until they both appeared in The Legacy (1978). They have been married since 1984.

Academy and Emmy award-winning actress Cloris Leachman has a small role as a prostitute. In her hit television sitcom of several years later, Phyllis, her father-in-law was played by Henry Jones, who appears as the bicycle salesman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Paul Newman's uncredited hairdresser on the film was Jay Sebring, the top hair designer of the day, who was one of several Hollywood notables, including actress Sharon Tate, murdered by Charles Manson's gang in August 1969, barely a month before the film's release.

Jeff Corey, who played Sheriff Bledsoe, was a promising young actor who made close to 70 films between his debut in 1939 and 1951, when he was blacklisted because of his past association with the Communist Party. During the decade he was banned from films, he began a new career as a highly respected acting teacher and drama coach, with such students over the years as James Dean, Barbra Streisand, Anthony Perkins, Robin Williams, Kirk Douglas, and Jack Nicholson. He was able to return to movies and television in 1960, making another 150 or more appearances in both media until his death in 2002.

Strother Martin, who plays Percy Garris, also appeared in 1969's two other big Westerns, The Wild Bunch and True Grit. He was also Paul Newman's memorable antagonist in Cool Hand Luke (1967).

Ted Cassidy, as outlaw Harvey Logan, who finds himself on the painful end of a kick from Butch, was most famous as the gigantic manservant Lurch on the TV comedy series The Addams Family.

Paul Newman and Steve McQueen eventually co-starred in the movie The Towering Inferno (1974). Billing disputes on that production were resolved with a method suggested for them on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: putting the second name on a higher level graphically than the first billed (aka "diagonal billing"). They received the same pay, and at McQueen's insistence, each had the exact same number of lines.

In the first previews, the audiences went wild with loud, extended laughter, which upset director George Roy Hill, who thought perhaps he had made Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid too funny. "They laughed at my tragedy," he said, and reworked it to take out some of the bigger laughs.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid initially opened to lukewarm reviews, which depressed Hill and writer William Goldman, but their moods were lifted when a friend of Goldman's told him about waiting in line in the rain to buy tickets on a chilly October day (a few weeks after it premiered). As the earlier audience filed out, one man who had just seen it shouted out, "Hey, it's really worth it!" "When I heard that story, I thought for the first time that we really might have something after all," Goldman said. Indeed, the film got great word of mouth and audiences grew solidly and enthusiastically.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid grossed more than $102 million (including re-releases). Some analyses claim that, adjusting for inflation, it ranks among the 100 top-grossing movies of all time and in the top 10 for its decade. It is also one of the most successful Westerns of all time.

As a result of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid's success, Robert Redford became a superstar overnight, and George Roy Hill was able to get greater artistic control over his projects. Newman was already a big star before he made it, but this increased his reputation even further.

Several critics took William Goldman to task for the contemporary, overly cool and clever quality of the dialogue. Although he defended it by noting the picture was set in the early 20th century therefore not as far removed historically as they claimed, he also later noted, "There's a lot about the screenplay I don't like, the smart-assness being just one of them. I also find there are too many reversals and that the entire enterprise suffers...from a case of the cutes."

"You know, I don't think people realize what that picture was all about. It's a love affair between two men. The girl is incidental." – Paul Newman

"I knew that was going to be the biggest film I'd ever been in. ... I said to Robert Redford, 'You're in your first 20 million dollar picture.'" – Paul Newman

"I don't think it had much effect on other films. At least I'm not aware of it, but then I'm not a film historian either." – Paul Newman

by Rob Nixon

Memorable Quotes from BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID

BUTCH (Paul Newman): What happened to the old bank? It was beautiful.
GUARD (Uncredited): People kept robbing it.
BUTCH: Small price to pay for beauty.

CARD PLAYER (Paul Bryar): Well, looks like you just about cleaned everybody out, fella. You haven't lost a hand since you got to deal. What's the secret of your success?
SUNDANCE KID (Robert Redford): Prayer.

SUNDANCE: Think ya used enough dynamite there, Butch?

BUTCH: I have vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.

BUTCH: Who are those guys?

BLEDSOE (Jeff Corey): It's over, don't you get that? Your time is over and you're gonna die bloody, and all you can do is choose where.

ETTA (Katharine Ross): I'm 26, and I'm single, and a school teacher, and that's the bottom of the pit. And the only excitement I've known is here with me now. I'll go with you, and I won't whine, and I'll sew your socks, and I'll stitch you when you're wounded, and I'll do anything you ask of me except one thing. I won't watch you die. I'll miss that scene if you don't mind.

BUTCH: I got a great idea where we should go next.
SUNDANCE: Well, I don't want to hear it.
BUTCH: You'll change your mind once I tell you.
SUNDANCE: Shut up.
BUTCH: Okay, okay.
SUNDANCE: It was your great ideas got us here.
BUTCH: Forget about it.
SUNDANCE: I don't want to hear another of your great ideas, all right?
BUTCH: All right.
SUNDANCE: Good.
BUTCH: Australia. I figured secretly you wanted to know so I told you.

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