Up Front 07/12

I bought myself a copy of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid a while ago, and though it now seems a bit dated I remembered why I had liked it so much when it first came out. There were some great one-liners, such as Butch’s, ‘you crazy—the fall’ll probably kill ya!’ when Sundance admits he can’t swim, and ‘If he’d just pay me what he’s spending to make me stop robbing him, I’d stop robbing him!’. It also had some great music from Burt Bacherach and Hal David, including Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head and the brilliant South American Gateway, sung by the Ron Hicklin Singers. But most of all it was memorable for two very likeable bank robbers—Paul Newman and Robert Redford. They immediately came to mind recently when newspapers carried a story about just how badly paid bank robbing is. According to a report in Significance, the magazine of the Royal Statistical Society and the American Statistical Association, the average proceeds from a bank robbery in the UK are £20,331, with one third of robberies yielding nothing at all. It also points out that carrying out multiple raids in the hopes of increasing income only increases the probability of getting caught and ending up ‘inside’. And it appears that although there is a clear connection between the number of raiders and total takings—the bigger the gang, the greater the success, with every extra gang member raising the take on average by £9,033.20—with extra gang members to share the proceeds the haul per person decreases. It seems deterrent factors also reduced the probability of successful raids. So both the film and the report leave us all feeling a little bit sorry for our lovable bank robbers—yet remarkably, neither appear to show any sympathy at all for the bankers.