Last Night

Butch Men

Who Are Those Guys?

By Steve Wiecking January 15, 2009

The Northwest Film Forum kicked-off its worthy 69 series this week and seeing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid last night made me…melancholy.

This is partly because I associate it with my late father, who considered the film an important historical document and always called me into the family room when it was on TV (he felt the same way about Papillon, Jeremiah Johnson, and Tora! Tora! Tora!, all of which—despite the fact that they’re filled with violence, death and, in the case of Papillon, the uncomfortable, if ingenious, notion of hiding your cash up your kazoo—I now find incredibly comforting on a Sunday afternoon).

And also the movie’s fatalism hit me more than it ever has before. Now that I’m in my forties I have a larger understanding of what it means when Butch and Sundance keep riding and dodging and running and still can only look behind to the pack that’s gaining on them and wonder, “Who are those guys?”

But, mostly—and I knew this would happen going in—it made me sad to think that I can’t imagine two current movie stars capable of playing the lead roles. Newman and Redford were men when that film came out; Redford was maybe 33, Newman about a decade older. Please name me two working Hollywood actors of those ages who could pull off Butch and Sundance today.

That’s what I thought.

Everyone’s a boy. Jason Statham’s not, but he’s low-rent. Daniel Craig’s a man, sure, but he’s Bond and that’s different. And, besides, none of the remarkable genuine men from Britain, like Clive Owen, would make convincing cowboys.

I know someone’s going to say Clooney. I’ll give you Clooney. That’s one. Pitt? While he finally seems to have relaxed into craggy manhood (thank you, Madame Jolie), he’s only showed true masculine ease once with Clooney. They spent those other abysmal Ocean movies practically scrubbing each other’s backs—lovely thought, yes, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.


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