I had a conversation with a dear old friend the other day. What are your favourite movies? Since I was young, or at least 15 I was able to recite my top movies. I had a tiered system, one movie on the top and then three movies beneath that. I’m not entirely sure when I decided that that’s how I was going to do it but that’s the way I listed them to people. I use my hands a lot when I speak so I probably used the hand gestures to help force home that I had thought about the breakdown of my favourite films so much that I had a system for announcing what they were. The list went as follows: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is number one, then the second tier which is comprised of Almost Famous, Wonder Boys and High Fidelity, then everything else that I like beneath those four films. They are the movies that I told everyone were my favourite.
I had been asked recently, before the conversation with my dear old friend, what my favourite movie was and when I came to answer it I stalled…I guess after more than 15 years of deliberation and education my mind had gotten cloudy. The things I was so sure of when I was 15 that I had hand gestures and systems to explain them? At 33 I wasn’t so sure anymore. Were they really still my favourite movies? Are you allowed to change your favourite movie? Is there a favourite movie from your teenage years and then when you get older, your taste changes and your favourite changes too?
It seems like I don’t love any movie as much now as I did when I was in my mid to late teens and early twenties. I love films now but it’s not the same, the intensity is gone. The feverish desire to know every single detail of how the filmmakers made every decision is gone. Films tend to wash over me now, even when I think they’re great, as opposed to when I was a teenager and I would walk around for days constantly thinking about how great such and such a movie was. I’m reliably informed that this is a symptom of getting old. I am old. Is this getting depressing yet?
Something stuck with me though about the question of my favourite movie. I felt like I needed to go back and revisit each of my four movies and see if the magic was still there. To see if I could see what all the fuss was about. I wanted to find out whether these movies could still sit upon my movie pyramid. So to begin, I started at the top, I watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
I can remember the first time I saw this movie. I’m not sure what age I was, probably about 14 or 15. For some reason I didn’t watch it in my lair. My lair was my room that I shared with my older brother, so I guess it should be called our lair. I watched it in the front room of my house. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon which meant that there was an enormous glare from the sun shining through the window onto the tv screen. To avoid the glare you had to sit on the chair directly beside the tv, not facing the tv, but to the left of it, almost facing the same direction as the screen. To see the screen properly from there you would either A: Sit with your legs over the side of the chair and prop yourself up in the middle of the chair or B: turn your whole body sideways and sit at an angle. Neither are ideal and both leave you with pains somewhere. The reason I’m telling you this is because I was so transfixed by what I was watching that I didn’t move for the entire movie. I chose option A in case you were wondering.
So I won’t bore you with the plot of the movie… in fact, here’s the trailer in case you have no idea what movie I’m talking about.
I’m so glad I rewatched this. I had doubted myself when I had told my friend that this was always the movie that I said was my favourite. Secretly I wondered to myself whether I was just picking an old movie to be different or, god forbid, to be a 15 year old film hipster and I never had the courage or intestinal fortitude to change it and tell everyone that Toy Story is actually my favourite. I do love Toy Story too…
When I was slung over the chair years ago in my front room I couldn’t decide who I liked more or more importantly who I wanted to be more like. Talk like Butch? Or shoot like Sundance? Be clever like Butch? Or be direct like Sundance? This one was the most important one to me when I was 15…Be friends with the girl like Butch? Or get the girl like Sundance? I was a chatty smartass with no girlfriend when I watched this so I knew who I was most like. When I watch it now I feel like I’m the sheriff that the guys wake up in the middle of the night who’s getting mean in his old age…
The dynamic between the two characters is what I love the most. I find that with most of my favourite films and tv shows, I would gladly watch the main characters just going about their daily lives, no drama, no action…I would watch Butch and Sundance go to the post office… not to rob it or anything, just to buy some stamps.
The movie is incredibly funny. I remember being surprised how funny it was when I saw it first and I guess every time after. Paul Newman was a tremendously funny actor, at least to me he was anyway, there’s so many times in this film when his reaction to what’s happening around him is hilarious. He also does a spot on impression of Eamon Dunphy…look
He’s just said that if Wes Hoolahan had been picked to be a part of the Hole in the Wall gang they would have gotten away… Come to think of it, what happened to the other guys that were in the gang when they got split up and the entire posse followed Butch and Sundance? Did they get away scot free? And while we’re on the subject of questions that may or may not be answered in the film…How on earth do they find their way back home after they’ve been on the run for days and repeatedly say they don’t know where they are? They have the same GPS systems they use in Game of Thrones…How does everyone have such a great sense of direction without a compass or something??
So the movie has at least two of my favourite scenes of all time. This is one of them.
And look, I didn’t notice this until the other night…they bring Logan with them to rob the Flyer!
That’s just how nice of a guy Butch is!
The second scene that I love is the most famous scene from the movie. So here it is, with me talking over it…because I’m sure you’re all bored of reading at this point…
So does this movie still stand atop the pyramid? Does it still hold on to the crown of my favourite? I actually can’t say that any movie is my all time favourite… What I will say though is that this film made an immeasurable impact on me growing up. Did I become a bank robber? No. but it did make me appreciate character, dialog driven comedy and introduced me to the idea of an antihero as the main character and challenged me to root for the outlaws. This was my bar for buddy movies. The buddies in a buddy movie had to live up to one of cinemas all time great double acts. No pressure.