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Working Titles – Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid

Working Titles takes a closer look at specific films with a denim and workwear aesthetic with the goal of examining the material’s shifting cultural image.

“Most of what follows is true,” goes the opening disclaimer of arguably the greatest buddy-western biopic ever created. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was not only a well-written and charismatically acted film but it sweated historical detail far more than any western had before it. Through all the great western epics of the 1940s and 1950s, character development was typically one-dimensional, plots were straightforward — good guys vs. bad guys (almost always portrayed by minorities) — and historical accuracy was often ignored altogether. Then in 1969, legendary screenwriter William Goldman and up-and-coming director George Roy Hill teamed up to completely recreate the genre.

Though writers Goldman and Hill laid the foundation for the film’s success, the film’s stars are generally credited with cementing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid into legend. Robert Redford and Paul Newman were already two of Hollywood’s biggest male leads when the film was made. This was the 1960s equivalent of George Clooney and Brad Pitt teaming up for Oceans 11, or Pitt starring opposite Leonardo DeCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. These two guys could read a takeout menu to each other and make it look impossibly cool. Give them an excellent script handled by a clever director and you end up with cinematic gold. 


From Left to Right: Robert Redford, Katherine Ross, and Paul Newman. Image via 20th Century Fox.


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