Classic Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward Movies to Watch After ‘The Last Movie Stars’ – NBCNEWS

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The recently released six-part documentary The last movie stars On HBO Max describes the lives and careers of an iconic show business couple Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. It’s a fascinating look at the complexities of keeping a marriage together for decades and a deep dive into the art of acting. Ethan Hawke, who directed the documentary, has collected clips showcasing not only their best work, but also highlighting their personal lives. The following is a selection of some of their best movies, but this list could easily include 10 other titles.

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The Long Hot Summer (1958)

Newman and Woodward are deep fried in this adaptation of William Faulkner’s bestselling novel. Newman plays what was his specialty at the time, a sympathetic curious cad, while Woodward makes a twist as a neat and good socialite. The “y’alls” are on top of it, but this kind of lavish CinemaScope soap was the kind of thing that Hollywood released in the ’50s and this one is up a notch from the rest. The cast includes a flirty Lee Remicka wild eye Anthony Franciosaand an over the top Orson Welles his big daddy, complete with a ridiculous prosthetic nose… Welles loved fake noses.


RELATED: Ethan Hawke On Directing ‘The Last Movie Stars’ And Bonding With His Daughter Maya Hawke

The Three Faces of Eve (1957)

Before Sybil, there was Eve. The film that made Woodward a star and landed her an Oscar for Best Actress seems a little melodramatic these days, but no less impressive. Based on the true story of Chris Costner Sizemore, who was diagnosed with what was then known as multiple personality disorder, Eve is a must-see for Woodward’s powerful performance. Woodward skillfully moves from each personality and is able to express the inner torture of a woman who spirals out of control. There are fun moments of humor that lighten the mood and keep it from becoming a one-note emotional movie. Eve was a huge hit and would pave the way for countless mental health films from the 60s and 70s.

Rachel, Rachel (1968)

Surprisingly, this film is virtually unknown today. Nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Woodward for Best Actress, Rachel, Rachel still stands as Woodward’s most memorable performance. The story of an introverted schoolteacher whose sexual awakening in her mid-30s leads to a deeper reappraisal of her life, the film has Woodward strike a delicate balancing act by slowly exposing both Rachel’s grief and immortal spirit. It’s all a real family affair, with Newman behind the camera, in his directorial debut, and daughter Nell Newman Rachel playing like a child. Offbeat and painfully real, Rachel, Rachel goes well with movies from that era like Five easy pieces and I never sang to my father…not bad company to be in.

Cool Hand Luke (1967)

It’s hard to pick one Newman performance to be his defining role. (Butch Cassidy and Eddie Felson should be at the top of any list.) But Lucas Jackson’s role seems to be the one that shows off all of Newman’s tricks. Only Newman could have played the freewheeling Luke, an inmate who spends most of his time laughing out of boredom and looking for a laugh. It could also be the time when Newman completely broke away from the Brando equations that have plagued him since the beginning of his career. His performance here as a cool cad, anti-hero, sweet loser, prankster, cheater, hipster and egg lover… is spectacular. Created at the beginning of what is arguably the best 10-year stint of Hollywood filmmaking, Luke is filled with memorable moments, great lines and a top-notch supporting cast including George Kennedy (who won an Oscar), Harry Dean Stanton, Dennis Hopperand Strother Martin as a man who is very concerned with communication.

Hat (1963)

The director Paul Schrader Hawke tells in the documentary that Newman’s performance was in Hat who redefined the protagonist of American cinema. He may be right. It’s not just that Hud Bannon is a Class A hole, it’s that he seems to be perversely enjoying it. A revisionist western about Texas farmers, Hat Didn’t look much like anything coming out of Hollywood at the time. Newman and director Martin Ritt seem to foreshadow the anti-heroes of the late ’60s and ’70s. There is no interest in softening the character with humor, sentimentality, or a final act of redemption. Helped by cameraman James Wong Howe’s With a haunting use of black and white, this is a film that was so ahead of its time that today you’ll be amazed that it was not only made by a major studio, but that it was a box office success.

The Verdict (1982)

Newman as a Boston lawyer who is unlucky and looking for one last shot… unfortunately that shot is whiskey. He’s lucky to get a medical malpractice case that could lead to a major settlement. It’s not just the script of David Mamet, or the sure hand of the director Sydney LumetMaking this one of the great legal dramas is Newman’s willingness to expose some of his own demons battling alcoholism. This is acting at its most raw and revealing, both awkward and unforgettable. The film should have given Newman his first Oscar, but he would have to wait four more years before winning The color of money.

They Could Be Giants (1971)

No, no, not the band (although they did take their name from the movie). This is Joanne Woodward at her most light-hearted and fun way as a psychiatrist embarking on a playful adventure with a millionaire patient (George C. Scott) who believes he is the great Sherlock Holmes and she is Watson. giants is a film that did nothing at the box office. Offbeat and erratic, audiences and critics weren’t sure what to think. Today, it has a cult following who adore Woodward and Scott as strange sleuths who run through New York in search of clues. A film so quirky it’s ready for a Wes Anderson redo.

Clapperboard (1977)

A movie as funny and nasty as anything being made these days, Slap Shot still stands as one of the grittiest, dirtiest, and dirtiest sports comedies of all time. After the highs and (usually) lows of the minor league hockey team the Charlestown Chiefs, Newman is Reggie Dunlop, a player-coach who will do anything to keep fans coming back. With the news that the Chiefs may be sold and taken apart, the team develops a successful style of play that makes them miraculously popular and profitable. The movie, which may look like… The bad news bears on ice, is basically a sly commentary on corporations’ mastery of sports and its commitment to one thing: the bottom line. Newman never looked better dressed in wild silk shirts and long leather coats. The film is as fun for its 70s fashion as it is for its brutal behavior and bloody fights. Oh, and that reminds us: there’s nothing quite like Newman’s pep talk with the Hanson Brothers.

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