The 7 Best Paul Newman Movies
What can be said about Paul Newman that hasn’t already been said? He is one of the most handsome American faces to ever grace the screen with the acting chops to back it up. He delivered a wide variety of incredible performances throughout his career in numerous genres. Whether comedy, crime, western or otherwise, Newman never failed to captivate audiences. Behind the scenes, his film was equally — if not more — interesting. Throughout the 1970s, he participated in professional automobile races, as cars were a passion of his. It is likely for this reason he lent his voice to the Disney-Pixar film about sentient automobiles, Cars. He was also the proprietor of Newman’s Own, a food product company that donates all of its profit to charity. Newman was a fascinating, multifaceted person and a gifted actor. Below are the seven best films of his career.
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
The Hudsucker Proxy is a tragically forgotten entry to the Joel and Ethan Coen filmography. Co-written by Spider-Man and Evil Dead veteran Sam Raimi, the trio deliver a solid neo-screwball film. The founder of Hudsucker Industries commits suicide. In the wake of this event, Shareholder Sidney J. Mussburger (Newman) hopes to take control of the company by tanking its stock and buying it up. He installs a recent grad named Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) to control of the company to accomplish this goal. However, Mussburger is stunned to find that Barnes has fresh new ideas that may threaten his scheme. It is a fun, zany film entirely worthy of reexamination by audiences.
The Hustler (1961)
In The Hustler, Newman plays the titular hustler “Fast” Eddie Felson. His trade is small-time billiards but he hopes to defeat Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason), one of the best pool players in the country. Before he succeeds, he may have to have his share of humble pie and learn about himself and others along the way. It features great performances from top to bottom, including those of Piper Laurie and George C. Scott. The Hustler has reached the deserved status of a bonafide classic.
The Color of Money (1986)
Now well into his career as a beloved filmmaker, Martin Scorsese elected to return to the world of Robert Rossen’s The Hustler. In The Color of Money, Newman reprises his role as Fast Eddie 25 years older. This time, he takes on a rudderless but promising young prospect named Vincent Lauria (Tom Cruise). Vincent wastes his days shooting pool and playing arcade games until Eddie comes along to show him how to make a living scamming. It is one of the jauntiest films in Scorsese’s body of work. It is an undeniably good time.
The Road to Perdition (2002)
Newman’s final big-screen performance in The Road to Perdition turned out to be one of his best as well. Sam Mendes spins a yarn of betrayal and jealousy in a Depression-era crime family. Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) is an enforcer for the Irish Mob and beloved by its boss, John Rooney (Newman). John’s son Connor (Daniel Craig) is jealous of his father’s relationship with Michael, This envy comes to a head when Connor brutally murders most of Michael’s family. Michael and his surviving son (Tyler Hoechlin) are forced to go on the run, hoping to one day punish Connor for what he did. It is one of the most gripping films in Newman’s filmography.
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
If Newman received his rebellious reputation on screen from any single place, it was Cool Hand Luke. He plays the titular petty criminal Luke Jackson. After a drunken night of rambunctious behavior, he finds himself on a chain gang in a prison farm. His open disdain for the rules or hierarchy of the prison draws the ire of the powers that be. At the same time, however, this behavior endears him to many of his fellow inmates and he becomes a sort of living, breathing folk hero. Though he sadly did not win, Newman was nominated for the Academy Award for his laudable performance.
The Sting (1973)
The Sting reunites the trio responsible for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: Newman, Robert Redford, and director George Roy Hill. To many, this film is better than its predecessor. They trade the Old West setting for that of the Great Depression. Newman plays veteran grifter Henry Gondorff while Redford plays rookie con man Johnny Hooker. The latter enlists the help of the former after his team is killed on a botched job. Together, they look to outwit prominent crime boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw). The Sting is a worthwhile film for any fan of the heist genre.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Ahistorical though it might be, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a wholly enjoyable film. It is a worthwhile endeavor for any fan of westerns who desires a break from the unrelenting bleakness of contemporary entries to the genre. This film — starring Newman as Cassidy and Robert Redford as the Sundance Kid — documents the duo’s time on the lam after a string of robberies. They — along with Sundance’s lover Etta Place (Katharine Ross) — make their way down to Bolivia. It is an important piece of late 1960s film, albeit not the best film from anyone involved.
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