Believe it or not, the western movie was dying in 1969. Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns had blown up the genre’s conventions, and younger audiences were tired of the genre. Funny, then, that the highest grossing western up until then was released that year: George Roy Hill’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which screens Monday at the GE Theatre at Proctors.
It was fresh because, like the Italian westerns, it ignored genre traditions. The heroes were charming outlaws played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford (at their box office peaks); the emphasis was as much on humor and character as it was on action. It was romantic and fun then—and now.
The terrific cast includes Katherine Ross as the schoolteacher they’re both in love with, Jeff Corey as an old ally of the outlaws, George Furth as an entirely too loyal employee of the Union Pacific Railroad, and the great Strother Martin, who also managed to appear in that year’s other two iconic late westerns, True Grit and The Wild Bunch.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which was titled The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy until Newman was cast, will be screened on Monday (Oct. 7) at 2:30, 5, and 7:30 PM as part of the AFI 100 series at the GE Theatre at Proctors (432 State St., Schenectady). Tickets are $5. For more info, call 346-6204.