I wasn’t all that much of a Western fan in 1969, but I saw Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid several times because, you know, Paul Newman and Robert Redford. It was a combination that made The Sting a must-see, too, four years later. But when Butch Cassidy came out, Redford was almost an unknown. He wasn’t even the first pick for the role -or the second. Here are some things you probably didn’t know about the movie.
4. STEVE MCQUEEN DROPPED OUT OVER BILLING.
If Newman was the biggest movie star in the world at the time, Steve McQueen was right up there with him. The idea of casting not one but two mega-stars as Butch and Sundance made perfect sense, but there was a problem: whose name would go first in the credits? Fox president Darryl F. Zanuck later said that he proposed an unusual arrangement where half the prints of the film would list Newman first, the other half McQueen, but McQueen (or his representatives) wouldn’t accept anything other than top billing across the board. And that was that.
5. IT WAS “THE SUNDANCE KID AND BUTCH CASSIDY” UNTIL THE CASTING WAS SETTLED.
Once they’d settled on Redford as Newman’s costar, a new (minor) issue arose. Newman thought he was playing Sundance in what had heretofore been known as The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy. It turned out Hill, the director, actually wanted him to play Butch, and Redford to play Sundance. No problem; Newman was fine with the switch. But now they had a situation where the character being played by the less-famous actor came first in the title. The obvious Hollywood solution: reverse the title. “The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy” sounds weird to us now (as does the notion of Redford being significantly less famous than Newman), but there you go.
Read more about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at mental_floss.