This film is one of the all-time classics -- it won Academy Awards for Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Musical Score, and Best Original Song; it was nominated for Best Sound, Best Director, and Best Picture. This movie is about as well put together as a movie can get.
Legendary screenwriter, William Goldman, gifts the characters with sharp, witty, quotable dialogue which Paul Newman and Robert Redford deliver with deadpan perfection. What little time the supporting cast gets, they use well (with a particular emphasis on Strother Martin's unforgettably "colorful" performance as Percy Garris. Burt Bacharach's 60s-vibe score sounds a little odd for a western, but it offers a tone that period music just wouldn't deliver.
The real gem of this film, though, is Conrad Hall's photography. Intricately and beautifully crafted, the images are the main storytelling vocabulary. There is heart, metaphor, character, and action in every frame of this masterpiece. Film buffs and other careful viewers are treated to subtle nuances in lighting, angle, framing, and composition that enhance each line of dialogue, each action sequence, and the theme as a whole. Stunning.
Of course, as is the case in most American films from the late 1960s, the political commentary is heavy and certainly dark (compare this film to 1967s similarly-themed Bonnie and Clyde), but Hill's directing and Goldman's writing keep it from being ponderous or overwhelmingly obvious. The commentary reaches the audience naturally, and the conclusion loses none of its power or humanity pandering to the era.
Overall, if you're looking for a great ride and a nearly perfect example of filmmaking, this is your movie.
SAXTON'S FILM PICKS
People are always asking me what my favorite movies are, so I thought I'd make a list with reviews. I'll try to add a new pick every so often until my huge list of favorites is complete.
If you've seen one (or more) of the films, please add your own (appropriate) comments and reviews.