Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a 1969 American Western movie directed by George Roy Hill and written by William Goldman, who won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the movie. The movie is based loosely on fact as it tells the story of Wild West outlaws Robert LeRoy Parker, known as Butch Cassidy, and his partner Harry Longabaugh, the “Sundance Kid”, who are on the run from a crack U.S. posse after a string of train robberies. Take a look below for 28 more fun and interesting facts about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
1. In 2003, the movie was selected for the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being, “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
2. The American Film Institute ranked Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as the 49th greatest American movie on its 100 Years… 100 Movies list.
3. The real Butch Cassidy got his nickname because he once worked in a butcher’s shop. The Sundance Kid got his nickname because he was once arrested in the Wyoming town of Sundance.
4. According to William Goldman, his screenplay originally was titled “The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy.” Steven McQueen and Paul Newman read the script at approximately the same time and agreed to do it, with McQueen playing the Sundance Kid. When McQueen dropped out, the name reversed in the title, as Newman was a superstar.
5. Katherine Ross enjoyed shooting the silent, bicycle riding sequence best, because it was handled by the film crew’s Second Unit, rather than the director. She said, “Any day away from George Roy Hill was a good one.” This was after she had been scolded and banned from the set for operating a camera.
6. In order to get the shot of the “super posse” jumping out of the train on their horses, the door on the opposite side of the train car was left open and a ramp placed out of view on that side of the train. In real life, the horses wouldn’t have had room in the train car to make such a dramatic leap.
7. The more commonly used name for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s gang was The Wild Bunch. However, when the Sam Peckinpah film, The Wild Bunch, was released a few months earlier, the name of the gang was changed to the Hole in the Wall Gang to avoid confusion with Peckinpah’s movie.
8. Robert Redford wanted to do all of his own stunts. Paul Newman was especially upset about Redford’s desire to jump onto the train roof and run along the top of the cars as it moved. Redford said Newman told him, “I don’t want any heroics around here. I don’t want to lose a co-star.”
9. Paul Newman sawed George Roy Hill’s desk in half, “because he wouldn’t pay his bill for liquor which he borrowed from my office.”
10. Paul Newman did his own bicycle stunts, after his stuntman was unable to stay on the bike. The only one he didn’t do was the scene where Butch crashes backwards into the fence, which was performed by cinematographer Conrad L. Hall.
11. The river jump was shot at the studio’s Century Ranch near Malibu, California. Paul Newman’s and Robert Redford’s stuntmen jumped off of a construction crane by Century Lake. The crane was obscured by a matte painting of the cliffs.
12. The filmmakers tried to get Bob Dylan to sing Burt Bacharach’s famous song for the movie but he declined.
13. Paul Newman said that filming Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was the most fun he’d ever had while making a movie. He and Robert Redford were known for drinking heavily in Mexico.
14. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was a film debut of Sam Elliott but not the frontal shots. He went on to marry his co-star, Katharine Ross, in 1984.
15. It was George Roy Hill’s idea to have Butch and Sundance tenderly bandaging each other’s wounds.
16. The song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” was written after the rough cut was completed, and when Robert Redford first saw it in the movie, he thought it was terrible. The agents for singer B.J. Thomas regretted letting him do it, and thought that it would ruin his career.
17. Robert Redford didn’t agree with Paul Newman on the need for rehearsal, feeling that it lessens the spontaneity, but he conceded out of respect for his co-star.
18. Paul Newman’s charity for children with serious medical conditions is named Hole in the Wall Camp after Butch’s gang.
19. Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice behind Tony the Tiger and the singer of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” lent his voice to the bank robbing montage song. His is the incredibly low voice that is heard throughout the song.
20. Paul Newman said that Director George Roy Hill never displayed, “any hesitation or indecision. He knew precisely what he wanted in a scene, what he wanted from an actor.”
21. During filming, Paul Newman had an affair with journalist Nancy Bacon, which caused him to separate from his wife Joanne Woodward for a while.
22. William Goldman wrote that he couldn’t say what the producers’ contributions were to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid because, “on a George Roy Hill film, George is the giant ape. Because of his vast talent, his skill at infighting, his personality, he runs the show.”
23. In an on-set interview, Paul Newman discussed his daily routine with columnist Rona Jaffe, including getting up at 5:30 each morning, spending an hour in the pool and sauna, and phoning his wife Joanne Woodward three times a day.
24. The true identity of the historical person known as “Etta Place” is unknown. Historians have many different theories, a popular one being that she was Forth Worth innkeeper Eunice Gray, who died in a fire in 1962.
25. The Writers Guild of America ranked the screenplay number 11 on its list of 101 Greatest Screenplays ever written.
26. With U.S. box-office receipts of over $100 million, it was the top grossing film of the year. Adjusted for inflation, it ranks as the 34th top grossing movie of all time, and the top ten for its decade, due in part to subsequent re-releases.
27. Dustin Hoffman was considered for the role of Butch Cassidy.
28. The real “Hole in the Wall Gang” hid in Brown’s Park near the Green River. One of their bank robberies occurred in Delta.