One movie critic's top 12 Paul Newman films

by Steven Rea

The Philadelphia Inquirer (MCT)

28 September 2008


PHILADELPHIA—If you’re looking for a dozen of Paul Newman’s best, you’d want to start here:

“The Long, Hot Summer” (1958)—Newman and Joanne Woodward blaze up the screen for the first time in this fiery, Southern-fried Faulkner adaptation.

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (1958)—“Jump off the roof, Maggie, jump off it!” says tormented ex-football hero Newman to his restless missus Liz Taylor, in the bold but bowdlerized Metrocolor version of Tennessee Williams’ dysfunctional family saga.

“The Hustler” (1961)—Fast Eddie Felson plays the angles in director Robert Rossen’s jazzy, black-and-white pool-hall masterpiece. If Newman wasn’t already a superstar, his performance here clinched it.

“Hud” (1963)—“The only question I ever ask any woman is, ‘What time is your husband coming home?’ ” cracks Newman, hands wrapped around Patricia Neal, in this ace black-and-white portrait of a coldhearted, hard-drinking Texas cowpoke.

“Cool Hand Luke” (1967)—Drunken rebel gets put on a chain gang and just won’t stop talking back, even when things turn ugly. “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969)—Newman and Redford pair up as Wild West outlaws—they’re the Hole in the Wall Gang—in this quintessential buddy pic and box office blockbuster from director George Roy Hill.

“The Sting” (1973)—Newman and Redford winkin’ and grinnin’ as 1930s Chicago con men, with Robert Shaw as their mark, in the Oscar-winning box office smash.

“Slap Shot” (1977)—It boasts one of Newman’s wiliest comedic performances, as an aging minor-league hockey player who high-sticks it to his team owner and leads his motley crew to victory. The star couldn’t look happier as he spews out the expletives.

“The Verdict” (1982)—One of the great performances of his career, Newman is desperate, drunk and pathetic as a Boston ambulance chaser looking for redemption in Sidney Lumet’s deft legal thriller. The icy Charlotte Rampling is amazing, too.

“The Color of Money” (1986)—Martin Scorsese brings out the best in an older, wiser Newman, as the actor revisits “The Hustler’s” Fast Eddie, and puts Tom Cruise behind the eight ball.

“Nobody’s Fool” (1994)—Newman delivers a sly, shambling turn as 60-year-old Sully Sullivan, a small-town guy with a penchant for drinks and women, in Robert Benton’s folksy and fine character study.

“Road to Perdition” (2002)—Hard and heartbroken, Newman is an aging gangland boss working opposite Tom Hanks (as his surrogate son), in director Sam Mendes’ meditation on fathers and sons, loyalty and betrayal.

Topics: paul newman
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