Paul Newman and Robert Redford set the standard for the "buddy film" with this box office smash set in the Old West. The Sundance Kid (Redford) is the frontier's fastest gun. His sidekick, Butch Cassidy (Newman), is always dreaming up new ways to get rich fast. If only they could blow open a baggage car without also blowing up the money-filled safe inside... Or remember that Sundance can't swim before they escape a posse by leaping off a cliff into rushing rapids... Times are changing in the west and life is getting tougher. So Butch and Sundance pack their guns, don new duds, and, with Sundance's girlfriend (Katharine Ross), head down to Bolivia. Never mind that they don't speak Spanish - they'll manage somehow. A winner of four Academy Awards (including best screenplay and best song), here is a thoroughly enjoyable blend of fact and fancy done with true affection for a bygone era and featuring the two flashiest, friendliest funniest outlaws who ever called out "hands up!"
The original DVD release in 2000 was an excellent duplication of the 25th anniversary laser disc produced in 1994. This 2006 "ultimate edition" includes those features and adds another disc of extras, but many of the extras go over the same stories and facts numerous times. On the good side, screenwriter William Goldman begins his new commentary track by stating there was a deleted sequence echoing the nickelodeon footage seen in the opening titles. His wish that someone would find the sequence he has never seen is granted with this DVD (the sound was lost, but there are subitles and commentary from director George Roy Hill who died in 2002) Goldman does his usual crack commentary diagnosing the film and dishing out wisdom on the industry in general. There are two features here produced for the disc, one about the making of the film ("All of What Follows is True") with new interviews and "The True Tale of Butch and Sundance." The interviews in 2006 cover much of the ground as the 1994 interviews (with a few new mysteries cleared up including why Steve McQueen fell out of the project). A standard 90-minute TNT program expands on the historical facts stated in "True Tale" (with some of the same historians to boot). The best stuff was seen and heard on the original disc, thanks in part to Hill's involvement. His original commentary along with other crew remembers (including master cinematographer Conrad Hall) is biased, rambling, and fun. The mistakenly labeled 1994 making-of documentary was produced in 1968 by associate producer Robert Crawford. This 45-minute film is no piece of fluff; narrated by Hill, Goldman, and the stars, it tells of troubles on the set, gives frank assessments of talent, and deconstructs many of the scenes. For anyone brought up on tight, studio-controlled making-of docs, it's a breath of fresh air. The print is a bit warmer in this edition, but just as crisp. The original mono track has been slightly dressed up to a 2.0 stereo mix. --Doug Thomas