Hello Everybody. Mister Joe Morella and Mister Frank Segers here again. Mr. Jordan’s out at the moment.
Today guest contributor Larry Michie, who writes our BOOKS 2 FILM blogs, came across this bit of movie flotsam. We bet you, like us, were not aware of that other Butch Cassidy movie.
“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” perfectly played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford, is possibly the most popular Western movie ever, along with George Stevens’ “Shane” and Fred Zinnemann’s “High Noon” (for a slightly older generation) and maybe Sam Peckinpah’s “The Wild Bunch” (my own favorite). (Frank favors Sergio Leone’s masterpiece,“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” while Joe’s pick is Howard Hawk’s “Red River.”)
But hold on, pardner! A version of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” was filmed 15 years before the Newman-Redford version. It was a real stinker, but let’s give it some credit — it got there first.
Paramount Pictures filmed a cheapo oater (oater being the generic name used by Variety in the old days to categorize a Western).
The movie was called “Wyoming Renegades,” and came out in 1954”
Butch was played by Gene Evans, a generic bad guy, and William Bishop was the Sundance Kid. Bishop died five years after the movie was made, but Evans lived on to 1998. Although the cast of “Wyoming Renegades” included such reasonably well-known B-list thespians of the time such as Philip Carey and Martha Hyer, Evans and Bishop never even came close to attaining the star power of the Newman-Redford combination.
The movie’s plot: A member of the gang named Brady Sutton got out of the state pen, along with Sundance, but while Sundance promptly rejoined Butch, Sutton went straight, resuming a blacksmith career back in his home town.
His girlfriend, played by Hyer (with a huge head of frighteningly yellow hair), promptly began setting the wedding date. But wait! There was trouble! Butch Cassidy and his gang came into town and robbed the bank. Lots of bad things happened.
It’s all too dreary to report at length, but clearly the movie was an earlier version of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. There was even a reference to The Hole in the Wall Gang, and there was casual mention of Butch’s real name, LeRoy Parker.
One amusing landmark aspect of the plot: At the grand climax shootout (staple of every oater), all the women in town armed themselves with rifles and rounded up the bad guys, shooting a few who didn’t take them seriously. Give a big cheer for the pre-feminist uprising!
The movie is clocked at 73 minutes, and the director was Fred F. Sears.
As Butch would say: Who are those guys?