Three Essential Paul Newman Films

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Three Essential Paul Newman Films


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paul-newman

by Ian Phillips ’10

You don’t have to see every movie Paul Newman starred in to understand his impact. However, his performances are well worth a look:

Hud (1963)- One of the first standout performances of Newman’s career. Newman plays titular Hud, another of Newman’s famous outcasts who instead of impressing everyone he meets, seems instead to bring misery to their lives and cause them to resent him. Despite the fact that he frequently played outcasts, Newman’s Hud seems against type to most of his roles. However, he is able to find a way to channel the character’s lack of emotion and turn him into something of a misunderstood hero in the audience’s eye. This is something only Paul Newman could do. Melvyn Douglas may have won the Oscar for portraying Hud’s father, but it’s Newman’s performance that will never be forgotten.

Cool Hand Luke (1967)- Newman’s best performance. He portrays Luke, a drunken Southern war veteran who gets busted for stealing parking meters. Luke gets sent to a prison under an extremely strict warden and becomes the prison’s free spirit who keeps trying to escape. A story that seemed to mirror the soon rebellious movement in America, Luke defined some of Newman’s actual rebellion and political beliefs. His performance sticks out most. He portrays the character of having a certain charm of confidence, yet is filled with vulnerability and emotion. Some think the story is too similar to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, but the great writing and Newman make it a classic for the ages. That, I have no failure to communicate.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)- A groundbreaking film in many ways. It was the first teaming of Newman and Robert Redford and would later inspire the names for the Sundance Film Festival and the Hole in the Wall Camps. It tells the true story of outlaws Butch (Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Redford) who successfully rob banks and trains and then run from the law to Bolivia where they meet their fateful doom. The chemistry between Newman and Redford seemed so real and natural and is what truly makes the story believable. Such scenes as the final shootout and the love scene played to “Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head” have become as essential a part of American culture as Rosebud in “Citizen Kane” and King Kong on top of the Empire State Building.

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