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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: Special Edition (1969)

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: Special Edition (1969)

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Released 8-Aug-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Audio Commentary-George Roy Hill (Dir), Hall Davis (Lyricist),et al
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Making Of
Production Notes
Featurette-Alternate Credits Roll
Theatrical Trailer-3
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1969
Running Time 105:57
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By George Roy Hill

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Paul Newman
Robert Redford
Katharine Ross
Strother Martin
Jeff Corey
Henry Jones
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $36.95 Music Burt Bacharach

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Czech
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Wow, lots of big movies are coming to DVD lately. I was too young to see this movie when it was released in 1969. My parents enjoyed it a lot, and I remembered that fifteen years later when I got the chance to see it courtesy of VHS rental tape. I was less impressed then, but I suspect that was because of the limitations of VHS. 

    The two men called Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid really existed. They did rob trains, they were pursued by a "super-posse", and they did run off to South America. This movie starts with a placard: "Most of what follows is true". They did considerable research, including consulting Butch's only surviving relative: his sister. But you can ignore all that - I was unaware of it the first time I watched the movie, and I enjoyed it just the same. This is a good adventure, whether it's true or not.

    The movie starts with a sepia-toned sequence, showing a silent movie on the left and the credits on the right. The silent movie portrays Butch Cassidy and the Hole In The Wall gang robbing a train. It segues into a sepia-toned shot of Butch (Paul Newman) casing a bank, then cuts to Sundance (Robert Redford) playing cards, and being accused of cheating. Rather than blow away his accuser he talks quietly, and Butch tries to smooth things over. The accuser won't back down until he discovers that he is about to draw on The Sundance Kid, at which point he is rather happy to back down. As Butch and Sundance are leaving, he asks how good Sundance is. Sundance whirls, draws, and shoots the guy's gun belt off without hitting him. Cute intro, establishing Sundance as a highly skilled gun fighter, and Butch as the brains of the outfit.

    Eight minutes into the film we fade into colour. It's hard to spot the exact moment, because the first colour scene is in the low light of dawn, and they're riding across sepia-coloured sandy ground. The blue sky gives it away. As the light comes up we see more colour, including verdant green scrub. We slip back into sepia for a montage that covers their travel to Bolivia, and for the final credits - it's a nice touch.

    I don't want to describe too much of the plot, because you may not have seen the movie before. Just let me say that this movie has a fabulous ending. Oh, and it is quite impressive to see them re-loading their guns - for once revolvers with six chambers don't have the ability to fire forty rounds without reloading.

    This movie is a bit hard to categorise. It is a Western, and it has comic moments, one of the biggest explosions, and an extended chase (consider it the Bullitt of Westerns). But it has a more complex plot than the average Western, and it doesn't confine itself to the West. In fact, one of its main themes is the ending of the old West. Perhaps the best thing is not to attempt to pigeon-hole this one. If you enjoy a movie with a real plot, excellent actors, clever dialogue, and gorgeous picture, then buy this one, whether you like Westerns or not.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    This DVD is labelled "Special Edition", and for once that is not marketing hype. They have gone to some trouble with the transfer, and it shows - this is rather good. The R1 transfer is THX certified, and the R4 is not, but that is no cause for concern - the video looks good on both.

    This movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The widescreen presentation is very important, because the cinematography is absolutely first class. Conrad Hall has reason to be proud of the work he has done here. It's no surprise that he won the Oscar for Best Cinematography for this movie.

    The image is not always crystal clear. Indeed, there is one shot (a close-up of Katherine Ross around the camp fire) that is distinctly out of focus, but the slight softness of the image fits with the feel of the movie. In the commentary they point out that the image is clouded by dust, or smoke, or mist, in a great many of the scenes, and this was deliberate - they were trying to convey a time when things weren't as sterile as today. They succeeded. At the same time, shadow detail is excellent, and there is no low-level noise. There are a few shots with noticeable film grain, but I suspect these were deliberate, too.

    In the documentary they mention that they used a number of techniques to reduce the colour (not including the sepia tone at the start and end). Some of the film was overexposed by one or two f-stops to help desaturate the colour. Some of the "night" shots were underexposed to simulate night, even though they were filming during the day (I prefer this effect over the use of blue filters). Despite this, there are some gorgeous examples of well-saturated colour - the deep green of the foliage as they ride into Hole In The Wall, the vivid red of a scarf in the marketplace near the end of the film... These are isolated examples, though. Most of the colours are more muted, and this, too, works well in establishing the mood of the film.

    There are a few film artefacts. Nothing huge, and nothing annoying, but they are there. Considering the age of the film, I'm astounded that there aren't more. The copy of the film they used for this transfer must have been looked after particularly well. There are a couple of moments where there is some aliasing, but it's never troubling. There are no visible MPEG artefacts, and few film-to-video artefacts - there are traces of Gibbs effect on the rolling credits, but I refuse to deduct points for that.

    The English subtitles are excellent, corresponding closely with the spoken words. They are "for the hearing impaired", so they document some of the sound effects, but less so than most. I don't think they need to document, for example, "BANG!" for the explosions, so I'm glad they don't.

    The disc is single-sided, double-layer. I was looking out for the layer change, but couldn't spot it as I watched the movie. This frustrated me, so I went looking using the layer indicator on a DVD player. I'm pleased to report that they've been rather sneaky! They have included sufficient extra material so that they could place the movie on one layer, and all the extras on the other layer (the two layers must be roughly the same size). The nett result is a movie without a layer change - nice work.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    I listened to the English soundtrack, and to the audio commentary. There are no other soundtracks on this disc. Both soundtracks are Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, which is fine - the original soundtrack is mono, and this movie doesn't need a surround soundtrack - I'm happier they left it as is, rather than do a botched job of making a new mix.

    Dialogue is not always clear, unfortunately. There are a few cases where the actor's voice is obscured. (This is more common on a mono soundtrack, because all the sound is coming from the centre channel.) It doesn't harm the flow of the narrative, though. There were no visible glitches in audio sync.

    The score, what there is of it, is by Burt Bacharach. As mentioned in the commentary, there are only three musical interludes in the whole film, and no incidental music (excluding a piano in a brothel). I was surprised, but confirmed it the second time through the film - much of the soundtrack is limited to dialogue and ambient noises (hoofbeats, footsteps, gunshots, ...). Yet this is the movie that brought Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head to the world (please don't boycott the movie on that account!).

    The surrounds and subwoofer are not required for this movie.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The extras are comprehensive. There is a lot of content here, and they've gone to quite some effort to bring it to us.


    The menus are static and silent. The R1 has an animated main menu, with sound, and animated transitions.

Audio Commentary (director, lyricist, associate producer, cinematographer)

    This is not the best commentary I've ever heard. I think part of the problem is that there are too many people involved. Even so, there are some large gaps without any commentary. Each of the participants introduces himself, but after that it is not easy to identify who is speaking.

1994 Interviews

    These were recorded on the 25th anniversary of the film's release (for the laserdisc release, apparently). These are not the sort of fluff that I've seen on other discs; the interviews are longer, and the participants go into more detail than normal. The interviews are:

    If you add up all of the above you get 48:27 minutes - that is a substantial extra. The interviews are interesting, and I'm glad they're included.

Documentary - The Making of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (40:28)

    This may have been one of the first "making of" documentaries. It certainly feels like a real documentary, and not like an extended trailer or advertisement. Some of the content is stills and low resolution photography - don't expect a perfect picture. The soundtrack is not always related to the visuals; in fact, the first 48 seconds are completely black. That said, this documentary is filled with snippets of information. For example, I hadn't realised until I watched this documentary how little music there was in the movie - there is a total of just over 12 minutes, concentrated in three musical interludes - there is no score for the vast majority of the film.

    There are a number of shots from the film included in this documentary. It's a little irritating that all of them appear to have been captured on a machine with a hair trapped in the top left corner - you will see it over and over. Annoying!

    It is interesting to see that this documentary was donated by director George Roy Hill to Yale University - their copyright statement appears at the end of the documentary.

Production Notes 

    This name is misleading, to me. Normally production notes are a series of screens of text discussing the production of the movie. This is different. It consists of still shots of notes, letters, and contracts, all relating to the development of the movie. Some of the typewritten and handwritten text is not easy to read, but it is quite fascinating to see some of the arguments going on before the movie started shooting. This scene should be cut, that part of the budget must be trimmed, and so forth - I love the moment where a request to supply Burt Bacharach with a 25c pair of gloves is denied (they are willing to install a Moviola machine in his house, though).

    It's strange - I'm convinced that this material is in reverse order. Multiple shots of the same page will move up the page, rather than down, in the way you'd expect. Unfortunately, there's no easy way to read through it backwards.

Alternate Credit Roll (1:57)

    This is a different set of credits for the movie, basically laid out differently. Not exciting, but a little more detailed than the one used on the film.

Theatrical Trailers

    There are three trailers for this movie, and we get all three. The first two are quite short (0:57 and 0:58 - both presented in 1.78:1 non-16x9), but the third is longer (2:56 - presented in 2.35:1 non-16x9). All three have Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 and Region 4 discs are almost identical, with exactly the same extras. The R1 has a French soundtrack (mono), but fewer subtitle options. Oh, and the R1 has a subtly animated main menu with a short sound clip (nothing exciting). The only other difference I noted was that they get a layer change (at 60:55, on a scene change), while we don't - it's a small difference, but a nice one.

    I judge the R4 transfer to be slightly better, but the differences are rather small - if you already have the R1 I would not suggest you run out to replace it. 


    Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid is real-life turned into a good plot, made into a great movie, and presented very well on DVD.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is good, especially considering that it is mono.

    The extras are detailed and interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Sunday, August 12, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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