Total Recall: The 15 Greatest Paul Newman Movies

RT chooses our favorite movies starring the legendary actor.

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Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Tomatometer: 100%

Is it an ode to non-conformity? A warning to those who refuse to follow society's rules? Or a heavy-handed allegory featuring a central character meant to remind the audiences of a certain Nazarene carpenter? Stuart Rosenberg's 1967 adaptation of Donn Pearce's novel could arguably be considered all of these things, but most importantly -- for our purposes here, anyway -- Cool Hand Luke also provides one of Newman's finest performances, offering an early example of the way he gradually stripped away all the non-essential bits of his characters, learning to say more with a look or a gesture than any line of dialogue. Of course, Luke has some classic lines anyway, most notably the oft-repeated "What we have here...is failure to communicate." Empire Magazine's Kim Newman summed it up perfectly, calling it "One of those movies you remember Great Moments from."








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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Tomatometer: 92%

They ended up becoming one of the most natural-looking duos in film history, but Paul Newman and Robert Redford only came together for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid after Jack Lemmon, Warren Beatty, and Steve McQueen departed the project (the latter because of a now-infamous disagreement over whether he or Newman would receive top billing). But all's well that ends well -- and speaking of endings, this take on the oft-told legend of Butch and Sundance boasts one of the coolest ever put to film. The rest of the movie isn't bad either -- even the "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" montage has its fans -- and if large chunks of it feel overly familiar today, it's because they've been lifted for other films repeatedly in the nearly four decades since Butch's release. It's definitely more style than substance, but Film Threat's Brad Laidman was guilty of only mild overstatement when he called Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid "possibly the most likable movie ever filmed."








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The Sting (1973)
Tomatometer: 93%

Paul Newman and Robert Redford had already teamed up once before -- and the result, 1969's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, created the kind of box office lightning that almost never strikes twice. But the duo (reuniting with Butch director George Roy Hill) defied the odds with 1973's The Sting, assembling a buddy heist movie that was good enough to give long-deceased ragtime pianist Scott Joplin some newfound chart success. More importantly, The Sting provided a template for every wisecracking, double-crossing caper to follow. Newman and Redford weren't the first pair of relentlessly charming grifters to grace the silver screen, but they were two of the most glamorous -- and their deft interplay proved that with the right stars (and enough snappy dialogue), audiences will swallow even the most convoluted plot. The Sting has its flaws (including an inflated running time), but Vincent Canby of the New York Times spoke for most critics when he wrote, "The film is so good-natured, so obviously aware of everything it's up to, even its own picturesque frauds, that I opt to go along with it."




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