Euphoria #43: Don’t ever hit your mother with a shovel…

Warm and mellow-making movie moments, chosen by YOU, the Shadowplayers

My Mum, Sheila Cairns, picked this Bacharachian bachanal from BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, pointing out that she couldn’t imagine why Katherine Ross would be interested in Robert Redford anyway, with Paul Newman around.

It’s a beautiful scene (faint shades of JULES ET JIM?), and George Roy Hill deserves more credit as, at the very least, a second-tier commercial filmmaker (he was among the first to assimilate the influence of the Nouvelle Vague, for one thing). I reviewed a book about him once and, I can only say, he deserves a better book. The first edition must have been pretty good, but somewhere between then and the revised updated version, something pretty bad must have happened to the author (maybe just TIME?) and all the life and precision had gone out of his writing. And since Hill, at his best, had a lot of both qualities, he definitely deserves a better book.

Hmm, this sequence maybe could use some better GAGS (the “prequel” BUTCH AND SUNDANCE: THE EARLY DAYS has plenty) but GRH makes up for that by finding pretty and surprising and playful ways of filming stuff.

I just wish they’d tweaked it in the edit so that the snatching of the apple from the tree branch coincided with the word “did” in the lyrics. Wouldn’t that be nicer, musically?

But it’s great that they get away with the song. Of course, it’s not as extreme in its anachronism as Ennio Morricone’s surf guitar masterpieces, but its very airy and confident and sweet and is pretty clearly a modern popular song with nothing but tone to justify its presence (the lyrics run defiantly counter to the action). It did lead to a lot of inferior imitations, which rather deface movies like THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE and THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN (not a particularly strong contender at the best of times).

I think it’s funny that my Mum would choose this scene as she has a morbid fear of cows.

Go West


Otherstuff: screenwriter William Goldman still prefers his original title, THE SUNDANCE KID AND BUTCH CASSIDY (they changed it when Newman, the big star, wanted to play Butch).


BCATSK is obviously much nicer than TSKABC, as you can see for yourselves just by singing each title in turn. You see? You SEE?

And: my folks just recently watched NORTH BY NORTHWEST together again, on the exact anniversary of the day they first saw it, on their first date together, on the film’s first release.

And: the Donald Westlake novel I’m reading, Drowned Hopes, lifts Hitchcock’s original idea for the climax of NBNW — a man climbs into the nostril of the Mount Rushmore Lincoln, it’s dusty in there, and he sneezes. I’m going to forgive Westlake this little plagiarism, as it happens in the perfect place in the novel and anyway, Hitchcock never actually used it (the Mount Rushmore people objected).

the man in Lincoln's nose

6 Responses to “Euphoria #43: Don’t ever hit your mother with a shovel…”

  1. Both Cable Hogue and Judge Roy Bean have more in common with Glauber Rocha’s Brecht-on-acid westerns — Antonio das Mortes and Der Leone Have Sept Cabecas — than they do with George Roy Hill (whose The World of Henry Orient I greatly treasure.)

    Met Robert Redford a couple of years back and he’s much cuter in person than on screen. Nicely laid back too. It was at a reception for the so-adorable-you-want-to-scoop-him-up-and-put-him-in-your-pocket Gael Garcia Bernal.

  2. I think that’s why I kind of resent the songs in those westerns — the films aren’t a bit like BCATSK, so the songs feel like a commercial sop. Which Raindrops doesn’t.

    Fiona insists that Redford’s face is too lumpy.

    But he does seem quite relaxed and decent, his biggest enemies call him passive-aggressive (according to the imperfectly reliable Biskind) but nobody ever called him aggressive-aggressive.

    I think I actually prefer Tom Berenger and William Katt in that “prequel”.

  3. Passive -Aggressive is Standard Operational Procedure in Tinseltown.

  4. Sounds GREAT! A place where people care enough to be passive-aggressive.
    Here, it sometimes seems like you mainly need indifference and inertia to get ahead.

  5. I have to admit that I love the songs in Cable Hogue, partly because they enabled me to con my Western-disliking other half into watching it (“It’s a musical!” I said. Afterwards I was sniffily informed that two and a half songs does not a musical make.) The boozy sentimentality just works for me, in much the same way as Nick Cave & Shane McGowan singing ‘What a Wonderful World’ never fails to tear me up. Raindrops is also wonderful – top Bacharach, insidiously bouncy, magnificently inappropriate for BC&TSK.

  6. The whole score is pretty eccentric, and it somehow works. I’d be delighted if he did more movie music, he has a way of making classics. Casino Royale only exists in order to justify the score — which doesn’t need any justifying anyway.

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