To tell you the truth, I've never seen "Butch Cassidy" before sitting down to watch Fox's wonderful new special edition release. Not a real fan of the "western" genre, I still found a lot of fantastic things to enjoy in director George Roy Hill's film, widely regarded as a classic.
Seemingly the first "buddy" picture, Robert Redford and Paul Newman star as the Sundance kid and Butch Cassidy, a couple of robbers who follow their gang into a number of crimes while throwing some very funny lines back and forth in their conversations.
After a while though, the two get into a little too much trouble and find themselves persued by another gang that forces them to flee. Performances from both Redford and Newman are fantastic, and the two have a fine chemistry. The screenplay by William Goldman is excellent, and I found the film to be a very entertaining ride.
VIDEO: Woah!. I've never seen "Butch Cassidy" before, but I have to say - for a film that's about 31 years old now, the picture quality is tremendous! Like THX or not, this THX approved transfer looks striking, with images that are remarkably sharp and contain good detail. Colors are bold and rich, looking natural and accurate with no problems whatsoever. Flesh tones are accurate and natural, as well. Cinematographer Conrad Hall's fantastic photography gets a wonderful, fresh look on this beautiful looking image.
No pixelation, no shimmering, and a print that's almost crystal clear, with only a mark or two. This is a stunning looking image with fantastic clarity. Fox has done a really, really fantastic job!
SOUND: The original mono soundtrack is included here and while it doesn't have much strength or energy to it, it is very clean and free of hiss or distortion. Dialogue is clear and very easily understood, as well. Although the audio is limited, I didn't find any major problems or flaws.
MENUS:: Fox has also improved quite a bit on their menus in recent times, and "Butch Cassidy" is no exception. With some subtle, but cool animation, the main menu shows a wanted poster and also has some neat animation when a choice is made from that menu.
Commentary: This is a commentary from director George Roy Hill, cinematographer Conrad Hall, lyricist Hal David and associate producer Bob Crawford. After the opening introductions, it becomes a little hard to keep track of just who's who on the track, but still, the commentary does provide a lot of interesting information about the making of the movie. All of the commentators talk freqently towards the begining of the commentary about what attracted them to the film, many generally talk about the nature of the tale - a Western that was not only dramatic, but comedic. Also fascinating to hear was that the filmmakers had to work with the ratings board, even way back then.
The commentary deals equally with both the story in general and the production details; frequently, discussion turns to the locations that had to be used, as well as what was shot on a built set. Of course, there are also a couple of mentions of how wonderful it was to get paid to visit country so beautiful. Expanding further on these comments, the speakers talk about the problems and stories that they ran into on each of the locations. The commentary is mainly screen-specific, talking about what's going on on-screen, but there are times where it occasionally steers off onto another trail.
There are some gaps here and there throughout the commentary where there's silence, but when the speakers are talking, all of them provide great insight into the making of this classic Western.
"The Making Of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid": I wish all of the latest "making-of" documentaries would be like this one. A 45 minute documentary, this takes us through a lot of the story with interviews, but the majority of the presentation offers some very cool footage from the production at work.
There are some funny moments too, such as what it took for both Newman and Redford to become friends, which was an important step in making the characters for the film itself. Occasionally, I felt as if I could do without the constant narration telling me what was going on, but I still found the majority of the documentary a treat, and enjoyed watching the filmmakers at work. Although the sound on this documentary is thin, the full-frame picture offers acceptable and sometimes even pleasing image quality.
Trailers: Three trailers are included for the movie.
Interviews: There are also a number of very informative interviews included with many members of the cast. First off is Paul Newman, who takes the viewer through his memories of the history of the film, from the time he first became aquainted with the screenplay to the production itself. Robert Redford shares his original thoughts what he thought of the picture versus his thoughts looking back 31 years later. Redford provides quite a lot of insight about what it took to create the character, as well as what he thought of being on such a big film when he was fairly young. Also contributing interviews are William Goldman, Burt Bacharach and actress Katharine Ross.
In addition, this section includes two more parts that are combined comments from the different participants: "All Of What Follows Is True" and "Maybe Some Of What Follows Is True". Each of the interviews are fairly lengthy and provide a wealth of additional information from a group of the participants who made the movie what it is.
Also Included:: Production notes and an "alternate credit roll".
Final Thoughts: Not only did I enjoy the movie greatly, but I found Fox's presentation to be top notch. Highly recommended!
The Film A
Video 96/A = (384/400 possible points)
Audio: 79/C+ = (316/400 possible points)
Extras: 90/A- = (270/300 possible points)
Menus: 89/B+ (178/200 possible points)
Value: 83/B = (249/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: A
DVD GRADE: B