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Butch and Sundance were running into an ambush and certain death. Julius and Vincent Vega were executing a bunch of college boys in over their heads. Something to consider.

harry near indy

a very beautiful and powerful comment, professor.

thank you very much. and congratulations.

blue girl

Even one on one, I really think Paul Newman and Robert Redford are cooler. And on my end, I think it's all nastalgia. I've got a real thing for those guys. I'm going to show both of those posters, side by side to my son to see how he analyzes the situation. I also think, as a mother, there's a certain worry about a "Columbine" element when you think of your kids watching movies like Pulp Fiction.

harry near indy

i saw butch cassidy about two months ago on fx. i remember the quote from the sheriff about butch and sundance being two-bit outlaws.

then i remember another western released in 1969:

the wild bunch.

they were a group of two-bit outlaws, too. but mean ones. cruel ones. sadistic ones.

the last time i saw it, i realized that their horseplay wasn't done in fun and games. it was sadistic. and thuggish.

much unlike butch and sundance, which, when ya get down to it, were friends.

the wild bunch is the yang to butch cassidy's yin -- or the other way round; not sure which is which now.

but those two movies kinda put the western away for a while.


Blue Girl,

I don't think it's only nostalgia. I wasn't born when "BC and the SDK" was released and, in fact, hadn't seen it until recently. But Redford and Newman are inherently cooler than Travolta and Samuel L. Here's why:

1. Travolta is an actor playing at being cool. A poseur, in the final analysis. You can see this even within his performance in Pulp Fiction - you KNOW he is not that character (and never possibly could be that character). Compare that with Jimmy Cagney as Cody Jarrett in "White Heat", or Humphrey Bogart as Dixon Steele in "In a Lonely Place" where you begin to worry if Cagney or Bogart could actually be murderers and head-cases in real life ......or Redford/Newman in "BC and the SDK". All those guys are super-cool because they're authetic and real. Travolta is not. Imitation cool. And therefore, not actually that cool.

2. Samuel L. Jackson. Cool, but not as cool as he thinks he is. Which is, in the ultimate analysis, not cool, because the truly cool know precisely how cool they are and how cool they're not. Otherwise, Jackson either wouldn't have done Shaft or he would have made it work better. Of course, there wasn't really much for Jackson to work with, but someone with the real true cool could have made it work. Steve McQueen (or Clint Eastwood) made roles of equally dubious quality shine for them.

Scott Lemieux

Heh, Sneakers. I had forgotten entirely about that picture, but it's pretty good middlebrow entertainment in the end.

blue girl


I agree with you. Travolta was, as Jerry would say, ACT-ING! And that's probably why a lot of people think he's cool, because he proved he could ACT! And all the hub-bub over his dancing. Who cares? The part that came naturally to him? "Look Who's Talking" -- and you wouldn't say cool, you'd say "He seems nice."

Never really thought anything one way or another about Samuel L. Jackson. Never thought he was cool or uncool. Don't really care. Most memorable line to me: "Hold onto your butts."


Blue Girl,

It's not so much that Travolta fails ultimately to be convincing in a role, that, to me anyway, is superficially very darkly concieved (which is why I brought up Cody Jarrett and Dixon Steele, far deeper villianous or ambigious roles). It's that cool means being authentic in some way - Keith Carradine, for example, rarely plays evil characters perse, but he's a very cool actor, because he radiates authenticity in his roles. Or Jimmy Stewart, who rarely played evil characters (except for his great series of ambigious roles in movies by Anthony Mann), but was very authentic-seeming in his roles. or Tony Leung, for example, the coolest young(ish) actor of our time.

And Travolta just never is, to my taste, really authentic. Which makes him not cool.

Samuel Jackson, I think, could have been a great cool actor but somehow didn't make it. Went too mainstream? Perhaps.

blue girl

Yes, I agree. Authenticity = cool.
And there are different kinds of cool. Sexy cool. Goofy cool. Talented cool....

Some of my picks: James Gondolfini as Tony Soprano • Christian Slater in True Romance (my #2 favorite movie) • Andrew Lincoln in Love Actually (small part, but cool) • Nicole Kidman in The Hours • Meryl Streep in Adaptation (or pretty much anything) • Robert Deniro in anything • Diane Keaton in Annie Hall • Bud Cort in Harold and Maude • Warren Beatty in Bonnie and Clyde

blue girl

And who seems more "authentic" than Woody Allen playing, well, Woody Allen? ....but, I would never describe him as "cool."


I'm not head over heels for Tarintino, but I will say this in his favor. He has shown flashes of a humanism and true (rather than "poseur") cool in his work that soulless imitators like Snatch and Boondock Saints never seem to recognize. Watch Jackie Brown (if you haven't yet) for a different side to the guy. Some of the Bruce Willis scenes in PF registered this for me as well.


Scott, I like Jackie Brown, a whole lot, in fact, but all the death in that movie is played for laughs, except for Samuel L. Jackson's, which is a pure vengeance thrill kill.

Blue Girl and Burrito Boy, on the cool of Travolta and Jackson: First, Get Shorty.

Second, Mace Windu. Jackson is the coolest character in Star Wars, and before you say he has no competition, remember he's up against Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams, Christopher Lee, Alec Guinness, and Peter Cushing, not to mention Yoda and R2D2.

blue girl

Lance, just asked my son's opinion on the coolest Star Wars character. He told me to tell you, "there's no automatic coolest one. They're all cool."

When I said I didn't think Samuel L. Jackson was cool, he shook his head and said, "how could you think that....your so weird."



re Get Shorty: First, I think that's precisely the movie almost everyone will cite, because that's the character that IS, in fact, most closely like, Travolta's own personal character. But the vast majority of his roles, including PF, have been just "roles" for Travolta. A great actor (and Paul Newman and Robert Redford are great actors) would be authentic in a wider variety of roles - Travolta isn't a great actor and was only really authentic in that one role. Which makes him not cool. Think about it - lots of people have played all sorts of heavies with real authenticity. Travolta couldn't do it.

As to the Star Wars reference, haven't seen it.

Scott, I would agree with Jackie Brown - and I'm not one of those who ascribes it entirely to Elmore Leonard, either. However, I just don't think humanism is Tarantino's forte. I can't really see him making a convincing romance for example. (He did make a romance within a different genre, though, in Jackie Brown - but not a standalone romance.)


reminds me of one of my favorite westerns: TheFinal Cyrano Scene when Gerard Depardieu, sword in hand, fighting voices out loud till his dying breath.....Poety in motion if I ever saw it.....Like at the end of the 2nd pirate movie......God I love that movie....but the beginning of the third pirate movie really reminded me of what hearing voices was like in Psychic Hell......In the end.....My Poetic Hero....Cyrano was right baby.....VOICES ARE REAL! And the internet really is an "intimate distance", at least it is for me.....What do you think?


Most people seem to have it backwards, and that's what leads to tragedy. You don't make life decisions based on what's cool - it doesn't work. You shape your sense of what's cool based on what your life decisions lead you to.

There is NO WAY, EVER, that following "cool" is going to lead you towards sane, wise, happy, content, fulfilled, satisfied... because "cool" is holding an indifferent, anomic attitude towards your own failures.

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