Paul Newman’s Movies We Couldn’t Live Without

By MW staff

Paul Newman captivated audiences throughout his decades-long career. Here are the 5 Paul Newman movies we just couldn’t live without.

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Paul Newman is arguably one of the best actors to ever grace the big screen, among the likes of Marlon Brando and Jimmy Stewart. Newman has received countless accolades throughout his 59-year career, including nine Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor / Actor and one for Best Picture. Of Cat on a hot tin roof To Route of perdition, his long career in the industry has garnered critical and commercial acclaim.

Newman died in 2008, but his work is still relevant today. The actor had the innate ability to fully personify a role. In fact, selecting a decisive work for the accomplished actor would prove to be too much of a challenge. Nonetheless, here’s a look at a handful of his films that we just couldn’t live without.


Luke’s cool hand

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If one were to give a “schtick” to the iconic actor, it would be “all American anti-heroes” according to his characters in Hud, Hombre, and the scammer to name a few. In Luke’s cool hand, we are introduced to Lucas “Luke” Jackson, the ultimate anti-hero. Jackson is a maverick, anti-establishment petty criminal (arrested for vandalizing parking meters) who ends up in a Florida prison gang. The film follows him through numerous escape attempts and the consequences that inevitably follow. With each escape attempt, he earns the respect of his fellow inmates, who thrive vicariously through his anti-authoritarianism. As Luke becomes a beacon of hope for the inmates, he simultaneously creates a target on his back with the Captain (Strother Martin), who is determined to make Luke an example. As the film progresses, tensions rise and audiences are finally confronted with the tragic fact that Luke’s inability to surrender to authority will ultimately lead to his downfall.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is loosely based on the exploits of real-life outlaws Robert Leroy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford respectively. Newman and Redford pair perfectly as a duo of bank and train burglars. Their chemistry in the film is brilliant, and their witty repartee works out many of the film’s humorous one-liners and its “buddy movie” status. Throughout the film, audiences follow the couple’s misadventures until they cross paths with the bad man, EH Harriman of the Union Pacific Railroad, who seeks revenge. Harriman hires a group after the legendary outlaws, which forces them to flee to South America where they ultimately find themselves at a stalemate with the Bolivian military. Newman’s Cassidy isn’t a typical outlaw, which is evident in his distaste for violence, his penchant for cycling, and his willingness to go on the run.

The bite

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Newman and Redford rekindled their Butch & Sundance bromance for The bite. Written by David S. Ward, The bite is inspired by real crooks Fred and Charley Gondorff as written in David Maurer’s book The Big Con: The Story of the Trusted Man. The bite at the base is a revenge film. It follows the story of Johnny Hooker (Redford) an aspiring crook and Henry Gondorff (Newman) a professional crook hiding from the FBI. After the murder of mutual friend Luther Coleman (Robert Earl Jones), Johnny Hooker seeks revenge on Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), the famous mob boss. He tries to enlist the help of Gondorff who is at first reluctant to participate in the scheme, but ends up returning. Despite a complicated plot, the film is well paced and brilliantly directed, and is considered one of the best screenplays ever written.

Related: Robert Redford’s Ten Best Movie Roles Ranked

the scammer

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Paul Newman plays ‘fast’ Eddie Felson in his revolutionary role the scammer. The film follows Newman’s Felson as an insignificant pool con artist who is highly talented but has self-destructive tendencies. His ego forces him to challenge top billiard con-con “Minnesota Fats” (Jackie Gleason) in a high-stakes game. Felson not only loses the game but also his confidence. The film then follows him on the road to redemption. A conflict arises when his relationship with his manipulative “manager” Bert Gordon (George C. Scott) begins to interfere with his relationship with his girlfriend Sarah Packard (Piper Laurie). Soon Eddie must decide on the value of the price to pay.

Related: The Hustler DVD Review

The color of silver

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In the quasi-suite The color of silver directed by Martin Scorsese, Paul Newman is reprising his role of “fast” Eddie Felson. Twenty-five years have passed and Eddie is now a successful liquor salesman. One night, he sees a kid named Vincent Lauria (Tom Cruise) playing pool, and the kid is so good that he gives Eddie a taste of the good old days. The kid isn’t concerned with the money or the scam, but Felson senses the opportunity and begins to manipulate Vincent in the name of making money. The storyline reverts to the original when eventually Eddie ends up being the thing he hates most… Bert Gordon. Eventually, Eddie and Vincent fall out and go their separate ways only to find themselves later in the film as adversaries.

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