TV Highlights

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

PBS America - 9pm

Who's in it?

Journalists, artists and writers all shed new light on the legend of Butch and Sundance, two outlaws who became Wild West superstars even as their era drew to an end.

In a nutshell

“Butch became a rock star, a national celebrity.” Expect plenty of sentiments like that in this tell-all tale of two criminals who somehow transcended their actions to become bona fide icons of their time. And this was long, long before they were immortalised by Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Make no mistake, Butch and Sundance were huge in their own time, and didn’t need the Hollywood treatment to carve their place in the history books.

But how did Robert Leroy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh take on their unlikely mantles? This documentary picks through every aspect of the story, showing how – for all their daring and ambition – they managed to make off with heaps of cash without resorting to the kind of violence other outlaws were known for. Just as fascinating is the historical context, and the revelation that the two men were actually anachronisms in their own time, as the West became increasingly gentrified and left less room for gung-ho gangs.

What's the verdict?

Anyone with half an interest in the Wild West will be intrigued by this documentary, which will make the people and the settings more real, more tangible, than any big-budget movie. Just don’t expect to find out for sure what happened to Butch and Sundance after that final siege…

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07-07-2011