Apr

13

What is it about heists, and big scores, and Bolivia? Just watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for the first time in a long time. And couldn't help but enjoy William Goldman's terrific writing, much of which seemed very relevant to speculators.

A selection:

_____

(In the beginning, Butch watches a very solid, solidly-guarded bank being closed up for the night.)

Butch (to the Bank Guard): What happened to the old bank? It was beautiful.

Guard: People kept robbing it.

Butch: Small price to pay for beauty.

_____

(The moment of recognition, of reassessing one's positions.)

Macon: I didn't know you were the Sundance Kid when I said you were cheatin'.

_____

(Right after the "knife fight" with Harvey.)

Butch: Hey, what's this about the Flyer?

News: Well, Harvey said we'd hit it both this run and the return. Said nobody's done that to the Flyer before, and no matter how much we got the first time, they'd figure the return was safe and load it up with money.

Butch: Harvey thought of that?

News: Yes sir, he did.

Butch: Well, I'll tell you something fellas, that's exactly what we're gonna do.

_____

(A regime change in pursuit.)

Butch: Ah, you're wasting you're time. They can't track us over rocks.

Kid: Tell them that.

Butch: (Looks for himself.) Who are those guys?

_____

(Butch and the Kid finally escape Those Guys and return to Etta's. They read about the posse in the newspaper.)

Butch: Hey. It was Baltimore. And La Fours. You know who else?

Kid: Who?

Butch: Jeff Carley, George Hyatt, E. T. Kelleher.

Kid: (Looks at the paper.) Jees, we lucked out getting away, you know that? Why would these guys join up and take after us?

Butch: Oh forget it. A bunch like that won't stay together long.

Etta: They will. If Mr. Harriman has his way.

Kid: Who?

Etta: Mr. E. H. Harriman of the Union-Pacific Railroad. He resents the way you've been picking on him, so he's outfitted a special train and hired special employees. You spent the last couple of days avoiding them. It's really sort of flattering if you want to think about it that way.

Butch: A setup like that costs more than we ever took.

Etta: Apparently he can afford it.

Butch: That crazy Harriman. That's bad business. How long do you think I'd stay in operation if every time I pulled a job it cost me money? If he'd just pay me what he's spending to make me stop robbing him, I'd stop robbing him.

_____

(Butch and the Kid get jobs guarding the payroll for mine operator Percy Garris, played by the great Strother Martin.)

Butch: I think they're in the trees up ahead.

Kid: In the bushes on the left.

Butch: I'm telling ya, they're in the trees up ahead.

Kid: You take the trees, I'll take the bushes on the left.

Garris: Will you two beginners cut it out.

Butch: Well, we're just trying to spot an ambush, Mr. Garris.

Garris: Morons. I've got morons on my team. Nobody is going to rob us going *down* the mountain. We have got no money going *down* the mountain. When we have got the money on the way *back*, then you can sweat.

_____

You can watch the movie, in segments, online .

Marion Dreyfus adds:

Wm. Goldman has always been one of my most cherished reads. He is invariably intimate, clever, personable and cunning in resolving his plots. His films are always champions of amusing interactions, psychological insights and ebullient plotting. 

Stefan Jovanovich relates:

I once chauffeured Dad and Bill Goldman and one of his friends buddies to a Mets game. Seaver had one of his rare off days and the score was something like 9 to 1 by 6th inning. Dad wanted to leave early and beat the traffic but Goldman and his buddy were determine to stay. As the game ground to its inevitable conclusion, they seemed more and more interested, even animated. It finally dawned on my father that the author he was courting had a more than trivial bet on the over-under -which he won.

Vincent Andres says:

Reminds me another terrific movie from/with Paul Newman about optimism at its top (i.e. life at its worst) :

Sometimes a Great Notion (aka NEVER GIVE AN INCH)

A really great movie in my rememberings.

"Hank Stamper (Newman) and his father Henry Stamper (Fonda) operate a logging business in Wakonda, Oregon. The town comes to grips of economic despair, due to the local union's strike against a large lumber combine. When the Stamper's are asked to join the strikers, they refuse and are considered traitors. However, Hank continues to push his family on cutting more trees, despite Hank's wife (Remick) wishes for him to stop. Shortly later, Leeland Stamper, Henry's other son and Hank's half-brother, returns home after years of absence, which causes more unrest."

Stefan Jovanovich replies:

Vincent proves yet again his impeccable sensibility. SAGN is Kesey's best novel (the only one where his politics did not override his gifts as a writer), and the movie has Richard Jaekel, who was a wonderful actor. It also has a more than decent portrayal of the actual work of logging. (My claim of expertise here is based solely on one summer spent bucking logs for a gyppo outfit in the early 70s in Oregon - truly the hardest work I have ever seen or done.)
 


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1 Comment so far

  1. steve leslie on April 14, 2008 9:02 am

    Goldman wrote screenplays for some incredible movies. He is truly brilliant yet eclectic.

    My favorites:
    Harper
    Butch Cassidy
    Marathon Man
    Misery
    Chaplin
    Maverick

    My most favorite
    The Princess Bride

    sl.

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