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A few unknown facts about everyone’s favorite movie

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By Kelly Dolejsi

There’s really no need to review one of the American Film Institute’s Top 10 Westerns of all time, a winner of four Oscars, a Golden Globe, a Grammy, a slew of BAFTA awards (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), etc., ad nauseam.

We all know “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” is a great movie.

So instead of adding my adjectives to heaps of other reviewers’, I’m going to share some trivia about the film that might not be as well known as the film’s brilliant acting, directing, cinematography, score, screenplay and anything I might have missed.

Paul Newman, already a huge name when the film came out in 1969, won even more acclaim for his portrayal of notorious bank robber Butch Cassidy. However, he wasn’t the only one considered for the role – nor was Robert Redford the only one considered for Sundance.

In a parallel universe, Dustin Hoffman might have played Butch, side-by-side with Steve McQueen or Warren Beatty.

Lucky for Redford, the film was too similar to “Bonnie and Clyde” for Beatty’s tastes and McQueen stepped down, because, rumor has it, he was afraid Newman would get top billing.

Oddly enough, when McQueen read the script, it was titled “The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy.” The name changed only after McQueen rejected the role and left Newman on top over the younger Redford.

My second bit of trivia has less celebrity-gossip value, but I like it all the same.

When Butch and Sundance make their last-ditch effort to evade the ever-gaining superposse (another William Goldman movie came into my mind at this point and I wanted Butch to shout, “Inconceivable!”), sending their horse off in one direction while they take another, Butch asks, “What if they don’t follow the horse?” Sundance replies, “Don’t worry, Butch, you’ll think of something.”

Beginning with a network TV broadcast in 1976 and in every video sold and TV version aired for the next 30 years, this is the end of the conversation. Finally, a 2006 Collector’s Edition DVD restored the original retort from Butch, “That’s a load off my mind.”

Indeed.

The Mesa Public Library Free Film Series will screen “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (complete with Butch’s retort) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the upstairs meeting room theater. Next up in the series is “Missouri Breaks” (1974) on June 4, “Atomic City” (1952) as a special event on June 11, “Milagro Beanfield War” (1988) on July 2, “Contact” (1997) on July 30 and a collection of short films made in New Mexico on Sept. 3.

Each film in this season’s series was shot in New Mexico – part of the library’s tribute to Los Alamos’ 60th anniversary year-long celebration.

Films are presented free of charge thanks in large part to donations from the Friends of the Library. The series is co-sponsored by the Los Alamos Arts Council.

Kelly Dolejsi is a member of the Los Alamos Arts Council.