June 14, 2013

Film Friday: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

When photographer Lawrence Schiller’s iconic image of Paul Newman and Robert Redford playing ping pong made the social media rounds (a photo like that legitimizes the existence of twitter for some of us) we were immediately brought back to the film that the photo was a behind-the-scenes look at: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. George Roy Hill’s ultimate buddy-movie about two train robbers Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and Sundance Kid (Robert Redford), whose casual approach to their job makes them flee the law to Bolivia, with Sundance’s girlfriend Etta (Katherine Ross).

Screen shot 2013-06-09 at 3.15.04 PMNot to take from the genius work of director George Roy Hill, but the script! Written in 1969, when a post–modernist flare in genre-film was slowly but steadily on the rise, it is simply one of the best scripts ever written. Sidebar:  The physical script has one of the best character introductions:  Butch Cassidy was hard to pin down. He had brown hair but, most people, if asked to describe him, would remember him as blonde. A line like that makes us swoon (almost) as much as Paul Newman. Butch’s screenwriter William Goldman famously (and blithely) sided with harsh critics of his inventive-Western who said he was “overly self-conscious” in his screenplay. By today’s standard we would categorize his script as a beau ideal piece of reflexive writing where the creator’s hand is evident (which purposefully acts a critique of the Western genre itself). That’s basically an academic way of saying it’s hipster (or hilariously wry for a Western.) We would go out on a limb and say Tarantino and the Cohen Brothers would not exist without Goldman’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Screen shot 2013-06-09 at 3.14.31 PMAfter watching the film, you’ll going to want to pick up the coffee table book Cowboy Kate by Sam Haskins and study it. The Cowboy Kate series was made in 1964, five years earlier and the stylistic influence is palpable (right down to the famous bicycle scene). The film has inspired many a cowboy editorial spread, but we like Mario Testino’s photos of Kate Moss for British Vogue.  You’re going to want to add subtle (really subtle) Western accents to your wardrobe (no early noughties Sienna Miller boho – subtle!) Isabel Marant’s white Greta dress for her Spring/Summer 2013 topped with the A.P.C. felt hat should do. Wear your hair in a thick-side braid to channel your inner Etta. Men should always want to look like Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Pick up a bowler hat from Lock & Co Hatters in London, a three-piece tweed suit and a bicycle. For women who don’t want to dress go prairie chic like Etta… we suggest doing the same.

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