Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Did Me Some Talking to the Sun

Given my choice of a '60s film or a Western, I'll take the '60s film every time.

But when they're one and the same, that's kind of cool. I wasn't the only one excited to read about Movieland's TCM screening of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." A friend I'd had dinner with last week mentioned looking forward to it before I even brought it up.

We're talking a classic here.

What I hadn't remembered was how quintessentially '60s these two guys were. Let's see, anti-authority? Yep. Desire to live off the grid? Oh, yes. Refusal to take a mainstream job? Affirmative. Living off the land? Right on.

Hell, if you just read the descriptors, you'd assume they were hippies. If you looked at the facial hair, you'd be convinced of it.

But, no, they were sepia-toned outlaws with a pretty partner-in-crime (who just happened to wear Twiggy-like eye make-up), promiscuous when they wanted to be and easy-going about life. All in all, a pretty groovy story.

There weren't a lot of us in the theater, but then it was a mid-afternoon screening and some people, unlike Butch and Sundance, have straight-laced 9 to 5 jobs. Everyone in the theater was at least 40, although I'm not sure how many were, like me, seeing it for the first time since it was in theaters.

Despite the decades in between, several scenes were burned in my memory, probably due to having seen them at such a young age.

Like the bike scene, beginning with Butch's disembodied head riding past the window's of Etta's cabin where she's in bed with Sundance, with its charmingly dated soundtrack (as the credits put it, " B.J. Thomas sings 'Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head'") and soft-focus tableaux of Butch with Etta riding on the handlebars.

That could have happened on any commune.

And the jump scene where Sundance admits he can't swim just before they leap over the side of the cliff into a rushing river. You never forget the first time you hear an actor yell, "Shiiiiiiit!" that long.

Most unforgettable probably was that last scene, where the duo, bloodied and wounded, come out blazing only to face scores of Bolivian military. That iconic freeze frame as you hear scores of bullets.

And yet, a minute or two before that, when they're holed up inside discussing how bad a situation they're in, the older woman nearest me got up to go to the bathroom. Part of me wanted to remind her how close we were to the end, but she had to know that, right?

When she returned, credits were rolling. Whispering loudly to her friends, she asked, "What happened at the end? I forgot." And you got up anyway? Yeesh.

So while I'd remembered some scenes, I'd long since forgotten the sublime dry humor and how much of it there was. It may have been a western, but it was also a solid comedy ("If he'd just pay me what he's spending to make me stop robbing him, I'd stop robbing him").

Chalk it up to the vantage point of middle age, but equally surprising was that there was a definite disparity in Butch and Sundance's ages. I feel pretty certain when I first saw it, I thought they were the same age, but then an 11-year difference in old people is invisible to the young.

Besides, I was probably starry-eyed over Sundance saying such things as, "Well, I think I'll get saddled up and go looking for a woman. Shouldn't take more than a couple days. I'm not picky. As long as she's smart, pretty and sweet, and gentle and tender and refined and lovely...and carefree."

None of which would have mattered in a classic western, but, let's be real, 1969 was still all about the carefree.

I'm never gonna stop the rain 
By complaining
Because I'm free
Nothing's bothering me

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