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You just never know what he'll review next!

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Burl reviews Butch and Sundance: The Early Days! (1979)

Friends, you know it’s me, Burl! I’ve always liked a good Western, with the horses and the gunfights and the wide-open spaces! I guess Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a Western, though I’ve always thought of it more as an adventure-comedy with bromantic overtones; and in the end I've always been more of a Wild Bunch kind of fellow anyhow!

But the prequel to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which came out ten years later and is called Butch and Sundance: The Early Days, is more of a traditional Western by my own special reckoning! Of course it tries to have many of the same elements as its famous and beloved predecessor as it can pack in, or else lightly disguise – it replaces bicycle riding with skiing, for instance – but it has more one-on-one gunfights and horse ridership than I recall being in the original!

The story follows Butch, played by Tom Berenger from Someone To Watch Over Me, as he’s released from jail and meets up with the initially hostile Harry Longabaugh, a young sharpshootin’ bandit later to be renamed Harry the Skunk, and then finally The Sundance Kid! Ha ha, and guess who plays Sundance? That’s right, the Greatest American Hero!

I sometimes wonder about The Greatest American Hero’s career! He had a good role in Carrie, and then another one in Big Wednesday, and then this – it seemed like he was poised on the precipice of becoming a real live movie star! But maybe the TV show where he got his lasting identity as The Greatest American Hero kind of sidelined that for him, I don’t know!

Anyway, back to this weirdly diaphanous film! It’s a little hard to concentrate on it, actually, in the same way it’s hard to concentrate on a scrap of sheer gauze blowing in the wind against a bright white sky! I don’t like to cite other movie reviewers here, but I’ll make an exception for Roger Ebert’s review of this picture, which hits the nail on the head! He admits it’s reasonably well produced, which is true, but asks, in essence, “Ha ha, why was this movie even made? There seems to be no good reason for it!”

Quite right, Roger! It’s okay, but not particularly great, and never very exciting as an adventure movie; and it expects our knowledge of Butch and Sundance’s later adventures, of their great gentlemen’s bond and of their eventual fate, to do all the heavy lifting! There’s fine photography from Laszlo "Ghostbusters" Kovacs and a good supporting cast – Brian Dennehy, Peter Weller, Christopher Lloyd, John Schuck, and even Vincent Schiavelli – but to no particularly wondrous purpose!

Ha ha, I give this wisp of a motion picture one single spraying skunk!

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