Total Recall: The 15 Greatest Paul Newman Movies

RT chooses our favorite movies starring the legendary actor.

by Jeff Giles | Wednesday, Oct. 01 2008

more info...

The Color of Money (1986)
Tomatometer: 91%

Was this sequel to The Hustler both unnecessary and inferior to the original? Yes on both counts -- but hey, most films are inferior to The Hustler, so that's less of a knock on The Color of Money than it is an indication of how Paul Newman's first turn as "Fast Eddie" Felson has endured. This time around, Newman returned to the pool halls with Martin Scorsese behind the cameras, and with Tom Cruise and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio providing some extra youthful box office drawing power. For a handful of critics, it was little more than a crass attempt to cash in on a classic -- but they were in the distinct minority, as The Color of Money drew overwhelmingly positive reviews, and lived up to its name during its theatrical run, too. Perhaps most importantly, Color finally netted Newman that elusive Best Actor trophy. Pat Graham of the Chicago Reader said it best when he called the movie "A solidly crafted entertainment that, for the most part, strikes a successful balance between commercial necessity and personal expression."

more info...

Nobody's Fool (1994)
Tomatometer: 90%

It slipped past most moviegoers during its time in theaters -- and given its leisurely pace, nearly two-hour running time, and gently meandering plot, it isn't hard to understand why -- but Nobody's Fool is a late-period gem in Paul Newman's career, offering some of the actor's most finely balanced, quietly nuanced work. Working with a cast that included Jessica Tandy, Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith, and Philip Seymour Hoffman certainly didn't hurt, and Robert Benton's script (adapted from Richard Russo's novel) is evenly stacked with insightful, contemplative moments and chuckle-inducing zingers. Watching Newman and Willis together is a particular pleasure, but the same could be said for Newman and Tandy -- or Newman and Griffith, for that matter. It's a small picture with a big heart, and in the words of eFilmCritic's Scott Weinberg, it "offers a hell of a lot more than just Paul Newman at his very best, although that alone would make the flick worthy of your attention."

more info...

Road to Perdition (2002)
Tomatometer: 82%

In what ended up being his final theatrical screen appearance, Newman added an extra bit of gravitas to director Sam Mendes' adaptation of Max Allan Collins' popular graphic novel, appearing as a quietly ruthless crime boss who presides over a bloody struggle between his son and a man who might as well be. Mendes' meditative approach was questioned by some critics, but most appreciated Road to Perdition's exploration of violence's unpredictable long-term consequences; ultimately, the film earned six Academy Award nominations (including a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Newman) and over $100 million at the box office. Though he isn't in many scenes, Newman's performance here acts as a fitting capstone to a long career; his John Rooney is a man smart enough to understand the terrible effects of his decisions -- and to understand it's too late for him to make up for his mistakes. Newman's ability to convey these emotions with little more than a look was part of what eFilmCritic's Brian McKay was referring to when he said "the strength of the performances lies in their subtlety."

Click here to see the rest of Paul Neman's legendary filmography, or explore our archive for past Total Recall articles.