Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Essay

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Essay

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One of the more popular movies of the 1960s was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid , which featured Paul Newman and Robert Redford as the two titled Western outlaws. The film portrays the careers of Butch and Sundance, and how they were forced by the law to leave the Wild West for South America. In the last scene of the movie, the two bandits are shown surrounded by a bunch of South American soldiers after a robbery-gone-bad. Facing capture and extradition to the United States, the two badmen charge out of their hiding place, guns firing away. The film stops there, giving the impression that the two outlaws died in a blaze of glory with their boots on. However, did the real Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid meet their end in some one-sided shootout in South America? Members of both men’s families, as well as some historians, believe that the two men survived the shootout and later returned to the United States. A number of men have claimed to be the notorious outlaws, the most credible being a machine-shop owner by the name of William Phillips who said he was really Butch Cassidy. Based on the available information, the debate could go either way.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid both came from respectable families that were trying to make a living on the wild American frontier of the nineteenth century. Butch, born Robert LeRoy Parker, was actually the grandson of one of the original bishops of the Mormon Church (Editors 91). However, early on in his life, Robert turned to crime. He started out small, rustling cattle and stealing horses (Meadows and Buck 22). Robert Parker picked up his alias from his short career as a butcher. The name Cassidy came from Mike Cassidy, the con who taught Parker ...


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...n all likelihood, though, no smoking gun will ever be found that says that the two men did indeed die in Bolivia. Butch and Sundance probably would have liked it that way.

Works Cited

Editors of Time-Life Books. The Gunfighters. Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1974.

Horan, James D. The Outlaws. New York: Crown Publishers, 1977.

Johnston, Dorothy M. Western Badmen. New York: Ballantine Books, 1973.

Meadows, Anne and Daniel Buck. “Running Down A Legend.” Americas. (Nov.-Dec 1990) : 21-27. Infotrac Expanded Academic ASAP.

Patterson, Richard. Butch Cassidy: A Biography. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.

Stewart, Gail B. Where Lies Butch Cassidy? New York: Crestwood House, 1992.

“Wanted-Butch and Sundance.” Clyde Snow. NOVA. PBS. WUNK-TV, Greenville, N .C., October 12, 1993.

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