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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz


Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid [Blu-ray]


(George Roy Hill, 1969)







Review by Leonard Norwitz




Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Pictures Home Entertainment



Region: A

Runtime: 110

Chapters: 28

Size: 50 GB

Case: Standard Blu-ray case: 1 disc

Release date: May 13, 2008



Aspect ratio: 2.35.:1

Resolution: 1080P

Video codec: MPEG2 @ 18 MBPS



English DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless; English, Spanish & French Mono



English, English SDH, Spanish, Cantonese and Korean



• Audio Commentary by the Director George Roy Hill, Lyricist Ha; David, Documentary Director Robert Crawford Jr, and Cinematographer Conrad Hall.

• Audio Commentary by Screenwriter William Goldman

• All of What Follows is True – A Making-Of Documentary

• The Wild Bunch: The True Tale of Butch & Sundance Featurette

• Deleted Scene with Optional Director's Commentary

• Original Teaser & Trailers



The Film:

The Movie : 9
What can I add to the legend that hasn't been said and said again? I am, of course, referring to the film, not the real-life characters who inspired it. Perhaps only a personal note of dumbstruck awe that a western that blends romance, comedy – high and low – modern language (written by the man who would go on to write The Stepford Wives, All the President's Men and The Princess Bride) and a song by Burt Bacharach and Hal David had a hope or a prayer in hell of making it out of the editing console! But Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid isn't really a typical western, where people meet the challenge of transition with courage in the face of greed and power, so much as it is a comment about the unwillingness of people to change with the times, especially if you were good at your work and folks admired you for it. Add to this the most endearing couple since William Powell & Myrna Loy and – well, the rest is Legend.

Image : 5 (5~7/8)
The score of 5 indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray DVDs on a ten-point scale. The score in parentheses represents: first, a value for the image in absolute terms; and, second, how that image compares to what I believe is the current best we can expect in the theatre.

Was this image really this weak when I first saw it nearly 40 years ago! To be sure, it is heavily filtered at times, but even in the bright work, it is less than sparkling. I'm not one of those knee-jerk critics that adds the qualifier "for a movie this old" to explain away this or that weakness of the image. One needs only look at The King and I (1955) to see that it isn't the age of the film exactly as much as the film stock and the way the movie was shot that spells the difference. There seems to be something about many films shot around 1970 that results in some pretty awful looking images later on – and, most likely at the time as well.

Grousing aside, how does the Blu-ray version stack up against the 2006 two-disc Collector's Edition SD? Well, not to put too fine a point on it, not so much better.

If you compare my captures to those from Trainspotting HERE, you might conclude that the differences are greater with Butch Cassidy pairings below. But subjectively, I did not find it so. This is because the image is so compromised on the earlier film to start with, my mind could not let go of what improvements do exist on the Blu-ray. It is, in fact, better on the Blu-ray: the image is smoother without sacrificing resolution and detail. The color has a less "colorized" look and it is marginally sharper. Also note that the SD has even more blue fringing as the horses leap off the train. Finally, the Blu-ray image is, in fact, wider, with more information on the right side of the frame.


SD TOP vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM



SD TOP vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM



SD TOP vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM


More Blu-ray...




Audio & Music : 6/8
Like the 2-disc Collector's Edition, Fox's Blu-ray offers both a stereo and the original mono, but the SD's front channel only stereo is here pumped up to a full DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless. Should we care? Certainly this was not the filmmakers' intention. I'm guessing a lot will depend on the excellence of your surround system. (How am I doing at avoiding the question? Not so good, eh.)


Operations : 7
As easy to use as falling off a cliff.


Extras : 7
Alas, not all the Extra Features from the 2-disc Collector's Edition are brought over for the BRD. Missing are a second "making-of" documentary, interviews with Katherine Ross, William Goldman, and Burt Bacharach, Production Notes, "The Films of Paul Newman." I leave it to you to decide if what is retained for the Blu-ray adequately tells the tale.



Bottom line:

Recommendation : 6
This is a hard call. Of course, you should have the best version possible of this movie, and that would be the Blu-ray, but don't expect it to not knock your socks off by any stretch.

Leonard Norwitz
May 13th, 2008








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