Viewed – 02 August 2016 Netflix
I decided it was high time I checked out some of the much talked about movies from yesteryear that any self-respecting movie fan should see, and after perusing the much heralded IMDB Top 250 recently – this was one of the titles that leaped out at me. Growing up I can’t say Westerns really appealed to me all that much and still don’t really, but I’m open minded enough to seek them out occasionally especially if they really are as good as history will have one believe. However to put it bluntly – this isn’t one of the good ones.
Robert Redford and Paul Newman play two charming outlaws who rob banks and mail trains whilst womanising their way through the old west. These two are likable and clearly the main appeal of this movie as everything else, the plot, supporting characters and even the direction, seems half-assed. The story for what it’s worth, is basically watch these guys rob some people, then they start getting hunted by a posse, and then have to skip across the boarder until they get cornered in a village. There really is no more to it than that. Also the tone here is incredibly uneven, with occasional comedy that isn’t all that funny, and drama that isn’t all that dramatic due to a complete lack of tension or interesting scenarios. Aiding Redford and Newman is Katherine Ross as a local girl involved with these outlaws, who has no personality apart from smouldering good looks and delivers lines like a Stepford Wife. Even Newman & Redford’s performance, for such acclaimed actors feels lacking, like they are bored with their characters and only here to accept their pay cheques. However beyond lacklustre performances, lacklustre direction (it’s the old west…why doesn’t this look beautiful?) it’s the inclusion of Burt Bacharach’s ill-advised score with songs such as ‘raindrops keep falling on my head’ that ultimately jarred this viewer, often stopping the movie dead for pointless montage sequences or farce.
The movie began hopefully with a sepia colour pallet and some mood and atmosphere …but this was dropped immediately after the opening scene. Looking back I think if the movie had been presented entirely in such a way, then at least it would have had something to linger in the memory and help live up to such ‘classic’ status. I’m not saying there weren’t a few fun moments or witty lines … just none of it came together for me to make for a particularly satisfying experience. A so-called classic to avoid then unless you’re totally in love with Redford or Newman, something I believe Hollywood must have been at the time for this to have got any awards or attention.
Verdict: 2 /5