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Cook Library Cinema Club: Newman and Redford

From time to time, we’ll focus a spotlight on famous movie co-stars — the talented actors and actresses whose joint appearances onscreen proved so successful that the movie-going public and film producers couldn’t wait to see them together again in another film project.  We’ll start with a pair of Hollywood superstars blessed with matinee-idol good looks and loads of talent:  Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

Newman and Redford 4
Old pals Newman and Redford

Newman, a true screen legend, first made his name on the New York stage and on television before making his way to Hollywood, where he racked up nine Oscar nominations over the course of his 40+ year film career.  Early movie successes included the classic films Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Hustler, Hud, and Cool Hand Luke (my personal favorite); followed in later years by hits such as Absence of Malice, The Verdict, and The Color of Money, for which he earned an Oscar as best actor.  The famously blue-eyed Newman, who passed away in 2008, was married to actress Joanne Woodward for 50 years.  His legacy as a dedicated humanitarian continues, as his ‘Newman’s Own’ food brand still raises millions for charity.

Redford began his career in the same fashion as Newman, first attracting attention on Broadway and television, before hitting it big in Hollywood.  Among his notable hits are the films Barefoot in the Park, The Way We Were, The Candidate, and All the President’s Men.  In his later years, Redford preferred working behind the camera, earning Oscar nominations for his direction of the film Quiz Show and the Oscar-winning best picture Ordinary People.  Founder of the famed annual Sundance Film Festival and still working at age 78, Redford was most recently lauded for his truly compelling performance in the 2013 survivalist drama All is Lost.

Butch CassidyNewman and Redford teamed up for the first time in the classic Western adventure Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  The pair play the famous outlaw leaders of the Hole-in-the-Wall gang, who attempt an escape to Bolivia after a series of brazen train and bank robberies lands a relentless posse of lawmen hot on their trail.  Kathryn Ross also stars.  Directed by George Roy Hill, the 1969 film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and managed to take home four of the statuettes, including the prizes for best cinematography and best original song — the iconic Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.  As great a team as Newman and Redford proved to be, it’s hard to imagine today that actors Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty were also considered for the starring roles!

The StingFollowing the runaway success of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, director George Roy Hill and stars Newman and Redford re-teamed with even greater success in the 1973 caper film The Sting.  Their second effort resulted in more Oscar gold, including wins for best picture, best director, and best screenplay.  The film is set in 1930’s Chicago, and Redford plays Johnny Hooker, a young con man determined to avenge the murder of a close friend.  In his effort to pull the ultimate con on the mobster responsible for his friend’s death, Hooker realizes he’ll need the assistance of washed-up, former master con man Henry Gondorf (expertly played by Newman, in delightfully grungy form).  Because of its many plot twists, a major ad campaign strongly cautioned moviegoers seeing the film in its original release from entering theaters at any time other than the start of the film.  Rest assured, we won’t spoil it here!

Two old pros in two of the best ‘buddy’ films ever made.  Enjoy!


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