Film's Greatest Duo?

I watched two back to back films the other day. It wasn't the first time I had seen 'The Sting' or 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' but each time I do, it feels as though I had never seen them.

Like a great song, it's nearly impossible to pinpoint why a film resonates with an individual. Art speaks on so many levels that the permutations presented ordain it to perfectly impossible to do so. We all like different things for different reasons. Often enough, we can't articulate what hits us inside our soul.

Being a practical soul myself, 'The Sting' is a little easier to explain because it takes a place during a period that I happen to like. From the ragtime music of Scott Joplin to the sharp suits that marked the era, the movie captured me.

In 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' who can forget that whole seen when Redford and Newman are being followed. After failing to elude their pursuers, Cassidy (played by Newman) asks, "Who are those guys?" Of course, the ending that meets the two tragic heroes was also a scene to remember. Though 'Rain Drops Keep Falling on my Head' is a great song, it still escaped me how it fits with the style of the film. It seems so displaced. Hey, that's me.

Sometimes I wonder how 'Slap Shot' would have done with Robert Redford playing the part of Ned.

However, there is something else about these two- something more subtle and intangible. And this is the point of this post.

Warning, writer's Intrusion: I can just hear an editor now saying get to the point earlier! Specifically, I allude to the screen presence of Paul Newman and Robert Redford. One would be hard pressed, and perhaps a film historian can help me out here, to find a more impressive film duo in the past 50 years. Certainly there have been a few from Abbott and Costello, Laurel & Hardy, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, Cheech and Chong. Ok, scratch the last two. But who matches the aura of Newman and Redford?

In more recent times, Affleck and Damon have taken stabs at the Holy Grail. But Sir Percival did not find the Grail for them. Somehow they don't cut it. One of the more anticipated unification of two great actors was when Al Pacino and Robert De Niro starred in 'Heat.' However, that film was hardly a classic and the interaction between the two left me wanting more.

As I write, only the work of Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire as well as Kelly and Frank Sinatra match and possibly surpass the stage presence of Redford and Newman. Alas, the films they were involved in were often musicals.

Kelly or Newman. It doesn't matter much. I can't help but look back and think that one reason why they remains so enchanting is that they operated and moved their way suavely on the screen during a time when men were allowed to be men. These days, the womanifcation - my word - of man is a little too overt.

Humprey Bogart was a man's man. A ladies man. The line between a man and a woman was clear and distinct. Everyone knew and accepted this. I digress. It's a theory not explored.

Maybe this is why these films captivate me. Maybe on some level I instinctively feel we may have lost something. The films just sit right with me. Like a good song or a fine bottle of wine. I don't need (or want) to rationalize this. Suffice, for me to selfishly mention it along simplified lines.

In any event, even if one does not get caught up in over imaginative philosophies about film, these were two great films that happened to have two really cool men grace the screen.

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