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Sting and Sundance Showdown
by Andy York

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Hey, can I help it? Out of the Past is so cool that it's taking on the coolest screen duo ever. What do you get when you take two cool guys with great acting talent and throw them together? What you got was two of the most entertaining movies ever. No, I'm not talking about Brad Pitt and George Clooney. While they're no doubt a great screen pair, I'm talking about the originals. Paul Newman and Robert Redford have, so far, been in two movies together, and it's those two movies I decided to stack up against each other. So, in this showdown we have Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid vs. The Sting! Note: Spoilers

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

This movie's greatest legacy is probably from the simple fact the Sundance film festival gets it's name from founder Robert Redford's character. Yet, the film itself is better than any film I've seen emerge from that festival. While Redford tackles the role of the gunslinger Sundance, Paul Newman is the brains of the operation as Butch Cassidy. The operation I'm referring to is that Butch and Sundance, well, rob. Whether it be payrolls, trains or banks, Butch and Sundance will rob it. Needless to say, that tends to make some of lawmen of the time a little angry. We see Butch and Sundance run from law, rob anything they can and all the while they have time to make some really clever wise-cracks. It's the coolest western ever!

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid has made several "top whatever" lists. No doubt when I do my 100 Greatest Movies set of columns it will be somewhere in the top 50. What makes the movie so memorable is the blend of humor and action. The two characters provide plenty of action with chases and many gunfights, but you can't beat the comedy when they rob a Bolivian bank having to read from a piece of paper because they don't speak the language. Butch and Sundance break the law at every turn and eventually murder people, but you can't help falling in love
with them(heterosexually, don't worry Republicans!). The witticisms are so fun and the two characters are so likable that when you see their eventual downfall it's as tragic for the audience as any event I've seen in film. Yet, it's still so damn cool. The term "Blaze of Glory" could never be better defined than in the last frame of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

The Sting

The Sting was the second teaming of Redford and Newman, and at the time, it was easily the most successful of the two pairings. The Sting, after all, won the Oscar as the Best Picture of 1973. The story of The Sting is just that, a sting. Redford is a small-time conman that plots revenge against the man who had his mentor murdered. The only problem is how does a small-time con take on one of the most powerful men in the city? Well, you go get a man who has played "the big con" to help you out. Paul Newman just so happened to be that man. Paul Newman is Henry Gondorff, the burnt-out old con that is looking for one last score. Robert Redford is Johnny Hooker, the kid looking for revenge. When they include several other conmen into creating a fake casino to steal Doyle Lonnegan's(Robert Shaw) money, can they pull it off? What do you think?

When I mentioned earlier that when I do my 100 Greatest Movies list for MatchFlick.com that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid would be on it, well, I will guarantee that The Sting will also make it's way onto the list somewhere. It's just that entertaining! It's an old school version of Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven. That begs the question, is The Sting better than Ocean's Eleven? To use one of Paul Newman's catchphrases, you betcha! The Sting is as slick of a movie as has ever been made. The wise-cracks from the earlier Newman/Redford film are still there, but with the voltage turned up. The Academy Awards said that The Sting was worthy of the Best Picture Oscar when they denied Butch and Sundance that
honor. Does that make it better?

Winner - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

The first time I did a showdown I knew that The Seventh Seal would be my choice over Wild Strawberries. This time around I really hadn't decided until I wrote this thing. Both movies are amazing, and Redford and Newman are among my all-time favorite actors, but since I've made this concept to be a choice between two movies, I've got to pick Butch and Sundance over The Sting. The Sting is one of the greats, but Butch and Sundance just seems to dig a little deeper. Both films endear the two main characters to the audience, but it's the fate of Butch and Sundance that makes me feel it's the better of two. We should all know the scene, our two heroes are surrounded in a little hut by the entire Bolivian army. While they load their guns they plan they're next adventure. Not knowing the amount of guns awaiting them, Butch and Sundance storm out, guns blazing. The movies stops, holding on the image of the two character's guns blazing while we hear round after round of Bolivian gunfire. I don't know if there's been a better end to a movie. Certainly no ending is that cool!


Well, boys and girls, that as they say is that. I actually went and pulled out the VHS copies I bought of these two movies years ago just to see how I felt about them today. I don't think there's ever been a time I enjoyed viewing them more. At this point I normally tell those of you reading this to go see some movie I talked about. Well, I fully recommend you go buy both The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on DVD. No home video collection should be without these two classics. They will never be dated and they will always be among the greatest films ever made no matter how long the art form of film lasts.

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Out of the Past
Every other Tuesday

Discussing classic films from City Lights to Apocalypse Now and everything in between and beyond.

Other Columns
Other columns by Andy York:

Top 10 Coolest Movie Characters

Stewart-Mann Western Connection

Academy of Irrelevance

Ride of Terror Showdown

A Guide to the Fiercely Divine

All Columns

Andy York
Andy is a life long movie fanatic. The first movie he saw in the theater was Back to the Future, Part 2 at the age of 3 and he has loved movies ever since.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Andy York by clicking here.

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