‘Butch Cassidy’ archives come out of hiding

Forty years ago, the world premiere screening of the western “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” starring Paul Newman, Katharine Ross, and Robert Redford, mobbed New Haven’s bygone Roger Sherman Theater with thousands of actors and fans.

This month at the Whitney Humanities Center, New Haven residents can revisit the story behind this American classic. “The Making of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: Materials from the George Roy Hill Collection (Manuscripts and Archives),” an exhibit which went on display Sept. 8, features original materials from the film’s production, including objects varying from financial records to set designs and scene sketches.

Searching through the archives of the film’s director George Roy Hill ’43, who donated the remnants of the film’s production to the School of Art, curator Mark Bauer tried to visually recreate the film’s storied history. Displayed in a narrow hallway and one small room, the exhibit unearths key pieces from the making of “Butch Cassidy.”

“All the information and resources included in the exhibit would have been thrown away or dispersed had it not been for George Roy Hill’s donation,” Bauer said. “The display only suggests the riches of the enormous Butch Cassidy archive at Yale.”

Bauer said he intends for the exhibit’s organic layout of production objects to “convey the excitement of making a film and evoke the process.” Housed in the same building as the Film Studies program and center, the exhibit has a logical location for film lovers at Yale, Bauer said.

The exhibit is dedicated to Butch Cassidy leading man Paul Newman DRA ’54, who died last year and is, as Bauer noted, “very fondly remembered here at Yale.”

This small Butch Cassidy showcase has drawn only wandering viewers since it went on display last week, Christina Andriotis, the WHC administrative assistant, said.

“There has been a steady trickle of attendance since the exhibit’s inception,” Andriotis said. “They’re often surprised to see these original archives displayed here.”

In conjunction with the exhibit, there will be a 35mm screening of the movie followed by question and answer session with screenwriter William Goldman and associate producer Robert Crawford. Goldman will also likely host a master’s tea, and additional screenings, including a making-of documentary about “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” will take place at WHC that weekend.

According to Bauer, this series of events illustrates Yale’s diverse cultural offerings and attractions.

“Yale [is] doing what it does best, bringing people in from all over the world but also showing off the resources right here on campus,” Bauer said.

Michael Kerbel, director of the Film Studies Center, agreed: “We’re extremely pleased at the organization of the exhibit. Mark [Bauer] used a wide variety of materials and crafted a nice flow through the photos and storyboards. This is a point of interest for not just Yale, but the entire New Haven Community.”

The exhibit will be on display until Oct. 25.

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