Sunday, April 01, 2012


Well worth seeking out on Netflix Streaming, "Blackthorn" is a modest film that poses the question, "what might have happened if Butch Cassidy had survived the Bolivian shootout that allegedly took the lives of Butch and his erstwhile partner in crime, The Sundance Kid?"

The story picks up twenty years after the shootout. Butch, who now goes by the name of Blackthorn, has led a quiet, almost sedentary life in the Bolivian jungle, raising horses and mostly keeping to himself. Upon hearing about the death of Etta James, Butch decides to head back home to meet the young man borne by Etta, who is either his or Sundance's son (Blackthorn signs his letters to him as "Uncle Butch," but you're never quite sure if he really believes this). So he heads to the bank, pulls out all of his money, and prepares for the long journey home.

And then he crosses the path of what appears to be a somewhat hapless Spanish bandit, and before you know it, he is without money, without a horse, and being followed by a bloodthirsty posse who would like nothing more than to dispense some frontier justice. Sound familiar?

Sam Shepard is very good as Blackthorn/Butch, as are the actors who play Butch and Sundance in a series of flashbacks that provide the movie with much of its emotional heft. Stephen Rea is also quite good as a disgraced former Pinkerton detective who paid for his failure to bring Butch and Sundance in years before with the loss of his job and his dignity.

For anyone who enjoyed the classic original, this will be time well spent.

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