Butch and Sundance are the two leaders of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang. Butch is all ideas, Sundance is all action and skill. The west is becoming civilized and when Butch and Sundance rob a train once too often, a special posse begins trailing them no matter where they run. Over rock, through towns, across rivers, the group is always just behind them. When they finally escape through sheer luck, Butch has another idea, "Let's go to Bolivia". Based on the exploits of the historical characters.
In the turn of the century American west, Robert LeRoy Parker and Harry Longabaugh are better known by their aliases, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, partners and arguably the most renowned outlaws in the area, they who hold up banks or trains. Within the partnership, Butch is the brains, Sundance the shooting brawn. Despite their outlaw status, they are seen as an affable duo by those that know them, even by many of their so called adversaries. Butch has compiled the Hole in the Wall Gang, named after his hideout in the Wyoming mountains, and is its de facto leader primarily because he was the one who brought them all together. But as time goes on, Butch and Sundance are finding that changing circumstances are making their work more and more difficult, which leads to others within the gang questioning Butch's leadership. Following one of the gang's jobs holding up a train, a posse of six men on horseback are after them, not the gang as a whole but rather only Butch and Sundance. The duo have to figure who the six men are to find out their end goal. In trying to get away, they are assisted by their friend, schoolteacher Etta Place who is officially Sundance's girlfriend. She ended up with Sundance instead of Butch only because the two of them saw each other first. Butch and Sundance will learn how far the posse will go to get what they were tasked to do, and in turn Butch and Sundance will also learn how far they will go to preserve their lifestyle as well as their lives.
The true story of fast-draws and wild rides, battles with posses, train and bank robberies, a torrid love affair and a new lease on outlaw life in far away Bolivia. It is also a character study of a remarkable friendship between Butch - possibly the most likeable outlaw in frontier history - and his closest associate, the fabled, ever-dangerous Sundance Kid.
Two Western bank/train robbers flee to Bolivia when the law gets too close.
- Wyoming, c. 1900s. Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford), the leaders of the famous Hole in the Wall Gang, are planning another bank robbery. As they return to their hideout in Hole-in-the-Wall, they find out that the gang has selected a new leader, Harvey Logan. He challenges Butch to a knife fight, which Butch wins, using a ruse. Logan had the idea to rob the Union Pacific Flyer train instead of banks. He wanted to rob it twice, the idea being that the return would be considered safe and therefore more money might be involved. Butch takes this idea as his own.
The first robbery goes very well and the Marshal of the next town can't manage to raise a posse. Butch and Sundance listen to his attempts, enjoying themselves. Sundance's lover, Etta Place (Katherine Ross), is introduced. But obviously both men vie for her attention as she also goes bike-riding with Butch, a dialogue-free part of the film, accompanied by "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head."
The second robbery goes wrong. Not only does Butch use too much dynamite to blow the safe, but also a second train arrives, which is carrying a posse of six heavily armed men on horseback that has been specially outfitted to hunt down Butch and Sundance. The gang flees, but the entire posse follows Butch and Sundance. They try hiding in a brothel in a nearby town that night, but are betrayed. When they discover that the posse is continuing to follow their trail, they try riding double on a single horse in the hope that the posse will split up, but that fails. They then arrive in a nearby town and try to arrange an amnesty with the help of a friendly sheriff (Jeff Corey) of Carbon County. But the sheriff tells them they have no chance of getting one, and that they will be hunted down until they are killed by the posse.
Still on the run the next day, they muse about the identities of their pursuers. They fixate on Lord Baltimore, a famous Indian tracker, and Joe Lefors, a tough, renowned lawman, identifiable by his white skimmer hat (which the lead posse member is wearing). After climbing some mountains, they suddenly find themselves trapped on the edge of a canyon. With their unseen pursuers on their tail, they decide to jump into the river far below, even though Sundance can't swim and would prefer to fight.
Later that day, they arrive at Etta's house and learn from the local newspapers all about the posse and the identities of their pursuers and that they have been paid to stay together until they kill Butch and the Kid. They decide that it's time to leave the country: destination Bolivia!
After a montage of showing Butch, Sundance and Etta on their travels to New York, they arrive in a small Bolivian village at the end of the world. Sundance already resents their choice. Their first attempted bank robbery fails before it gets off the ground, since they are unable to speak or understand Spanish. Etta teaches them the words they need. The following robbery is clumsily executed, as Butch still needs his crib sheet. At each succeeding robbery they appear to improve, until they are sought by the authorities all over Bolivia.
However their confidence drops one evening, as Butch, Sundance and Etta are having dinner at a fancy restaurant in a nearby town, when they see a man wearing a white straw hat standing on the other side of the street talking to a few men. Fearing that Lefors is once again after them, Butch suggests going straight, so as not to attract Lefors' attention.
They get their first honest job as payroll guards in a mine, directed by an American named Garris (Strother Martin). However, on their first working day, they are attacked by highwaymen. Garris is killed and Butch and Sundance are forced to kill the Bolivian robbers. Ironically, Butch had never killed a man in his entire criminal career, but while they are attempting to go straight, he is forced to kill the bandits. Since they seem unable to escape violence, regardless of their occupation, they decide to return to robbery. That evening, Etta decides to leave them as she senses that their days are numbered and she doesn't want to watch them die.
A few days later, Butch and Sundance attack a payroll mule train in the jungle, taking the money and the mule. When they arrive in the nearest town, San Vicente, a stable boy recognizes the brand on the mule's backside and alerts the local police. While Butch and Sundance are eating at a local eatery, the police arrive and a climactic gun battle begins.
The two of them manage to find shelter in an empty house, but they're soon low on ammunition. Butch makes a run to the mule to fetch the rest of the ammunition while Sundance covers him, shooting several Bolivian policemen. But even the "fastest gun in the West" cannot match the twenty or more Bolivian policemen at once. Butch manages to retrieve the ammunition and runs back to the house, but they are both wounded. While tending to their wounds in the house, about 100 soldiers of the Bolivian cavalry arrive and surround the place, eager to get at the notorious 'Bandidos Yanquis'.
The wounded pair discuss where they will be going next, realizing that their time is up (Butch suggests Australia, where at least they speak English). They dash out of the house in a futile attempt to get to their horses. The image freezes and slowly turns to a sepia tone tintype while a voice is heard ordering: "Fuego!" (Fire), followed by the sound of hundreds of rifles being fired in three consecutive volleys....