One of my favorite movies is “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969). There’s a lot to like about the film. It’s a period western. The chemistry between Paul Newman and Robert Redford is compelling. The writing is terrific. It’s funny, and it’s just realistic enough to keep it somewhat grounded. If not for the “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” scene — where the story grinds to an awkward halt while we listen to B.J. Thomas sing his biggest hit — it could be top 10 for me.
I love the movie from the opening frame … even from the first storyboard: “Not that it matters, but most of what follows is true.” Say what you will about the morality of turning the “bad guys” into heroes [like “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967) or “Dillinger” (1973) or even my favorite TV show, “Breaking Bad” (2008-2013)], I still like it.
“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” has lots of memorable scenes and great bits of dialogue — mostly between Butch (Newman) and Sundance (Redford). From “Who are those guys?” to “Rules?! In a knife fight?!” it’s unforgettable.
But one scene has resonated with me through the years more than any other. In it, Butch and Sundance are robbing a train car. Inside, a bank employee refuses to open up and hand over the money, so Butch resorts to dynamite to gain entry. The resulting explosion turns the train car into splinters, destroying the money in the process and nearly killing everyone nearby.
As they pick themselves up off of the ground after the blast, Sundance sarcastically asks, “Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?”
Rarely do more than a couple of weeks go by that I do not think of that scene, that line. Sometimes I’ll repeat it out loud.
“Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?”
Usually that gets a blank stare from anyone in earshot. Occasionally, there’s a glimmer of recognition.
I use the line when the “dynamite” is way more than what’s needed but also when it falls far short. I use it when the wrong tool has been implemented — when dynamite is the wrong choice for the job. I use it whenever the tool or the size of the tool is a mismatch for the task.
I even use it against myself when I’m the one who has misjudged the size of the job or the right tool to get it done.
Most often, I think we fail because we don’t use enough dynamite — not because we use too much. Most often, we underestimate what it’s going to take to succeed.
Most often, we fall short of our target rather than overshoot it.
It reminds me of a golfer attempting a putt that will win a big tournament. Not only does he need to get the angle just right, but he must also get the speed of the putt right. He must hit the ball hard enough or it won’t reach the hole. And if it doesn’t reach the hole, he has no chance at all of making the putt.
No one wants to leave that putt short … or to use too little dynamite. That’s true in golf, in train robberies and in business.