Anyone who’s interested in movies should be interested in the subgenre of Paul Newman movies. That’s right – when a movie star Paul Newman, it somehow enters a category of its own. There are a lot of Paul Newman movies, and not all of them are great, but most of them are worth checking out. Here is just a handful of essential Paul Newman movies:
This is one of the first Paul Newman movies, and still one of the best. It’s a boxing movie from master craftsman Robert Wise, and it shows – the boxing scenes are incredibly exciting and surprisingly brutal at times. Paul Newman plays Rocky Graziano – the real-life boxer whose true story (or at least his name) went on to inspire Rocky. Somebody Up There Likes Me was also one of Martin Scorsese‘s inspirations when he was making HIS boxing movie, Raging Bull. So it’s clearly an important Paul Newman movie to anyone who likes movies.
This is one of the most famous Paul Newman movies, and with good reason: The black-and-white cinematography is the definition of cool, and that’s before you factor in that it’s about what is quite possibly the coolest sport there is: Pool. And Newman isn’t alone here: He’s surrounded by a great cast that includes George C. Scott, Piper Laurie, and the legendary Jackie Gleason. Paul Newman was known for choosing intelligent projects, and this is a Paul Newman movie that fits that bill with flying colors. Worth checking out also is its more-than-20-years-in-the-making sequel The Color of Money, directed by the aforementioned Martin Scorsese.
This, on the other hand, isn’t one of the most famous Paul Newman movies. But it does give you a chance to see Paul Newman working with Movie God Alfred Hitchcock, along with Julie “Mary Poppins” Andrews. It may not be up to the Hitchcock standard of North By Northwest or Psycho, but it’s still a lot of fun. It also includes one of Hitchcock’s most famous sequences, in which Paul Newman murders an enemy spy, and it’s not one of those “easy” murders – he has to use practically everything in the room, from a knife to an open stove.
This is perhaps “The Paul Newman movie,” the one that stands above all the others. It stars Paul Newman as the Christlike convict Luke, locked up in a brutal chain gang-style prison in the 1930s. It’s visually stunning, and Newman delivers one of his finest performances. Also, there’s a pretty hot car wash scene. What are you waiting for?
Paul Newman made a lot of movies as a young movie star, but at least one of the movies from his “older period” should be included here. And the best of the bunch is almost unarguably The Hudsucker Proxy, by Joel and Ethan Coen. Paul Newman is the villainous Sidney J. Mussburger, and he chomps the biggest and most evil-looking cigar since Sterling Hayden in Dr. Strangelove. He’s also, and maybe this should go without saying, completely hilarious. The movie, starring Tim Robbins and Jennifer Jason Leigh (among others) is too. It doesn’t have Paul Newman in the leading role, but it’s still an essential Paul Newman movie all the same.
This is only a brief list of Paul Newman movies, so many other famous essentials like The Sting or Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid have been left out, along with lesser-known gems like The Mackintosh Man or The Drowning Pool. Consider this an introductory course in Paul Newman movies. There are worse things to be educated in.