Newman on DVD: A Dozen Picks from a Superb Career

In a morality play about generational clashing on a Texas cattle ranch, Oscar-nominated Newman wrestled a greased pig and too many other men's wives. And even though James Wong Howe's spectacular cinematography is in black-and-white, you all but feel the pinkness of Newman's Cadillac.

"Cool Hand Luke" (1967, Warner; also on Blu-ray)

After drunkenly vandalizing parking meters, Newman's Luke ends up on a Southern chain gang where the only things to do are watch a buxom blonde suds up a car or brazenly ingest 50 hard-boiled eggs on a bet. He also finds himself on the wrong side of Southern chain gang warden Strother Martin's "What we have here … is a failure to communicate" catchphrase.

"Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969, Fox; also on Blu-ray)

Newman ended the decade as half of a casting coup for the ages. Playing off Robert Redford's breakout performance in William Goldman's jokey script, he gave a performance that at the time was his most loosened-up. An actor whose attempts at comedy once seemed overbearing suddenly seemed easygoing, beguilingly so.

"The Sting" (1973, Universal)

A reunion with Redford and "Butch" director George Roy Hill, this critical/commercial bonanza so captivated the public that Scott Joplin's theme ended up sharing concurrent Billboard pop chart placement with Steely Dan and Stevie Wonder.

"Slap Shot" (1977, Universal)

A key contender for Newman's best movie of the decade is this hockey comedy from director Hill, whose Nancy Dowd script may have set new standards for screen profanity at the time. It's probably Newman's funniest performance -- especially in scenes with the Hanson Brothers, a trio of violence-prone Neanderthals who bash opposing players and soft-drink machines with equal zeal.

"The Verdict" (1982, Fox)

Newman's best outing of the '80s, besting 1981's "Absence of Malice." As an alcoholic has-been attorney seeking redemption, Newman headlined one of the best courtroom nail-biters ever, with assists from screenwriter David Mamet and director Sidney Lumet.

"The Color of Money" (1986, Touchstone)

A quarter-century later, "The Hustler"'s Eddie Felson wasn't so "fast," yet it was an inspired idea to bring him back to the screen with some hard-earned middle-age maturity. It was also a good commercial move for Martin Scorsese, who needed a box-office hit. This time, Tom Cruise is the callow one, and Newman finally won his acting Oscar, just a year after he'd won a special one that paid tribute to his entire career.

"Nobody's Fool" (1994, Paramount)

In the movie of Richard Russo's novel, Newman is a family-estranged laborer battling a scoundrel contractor (Bruce Willis). Though nominated Newman missed the Oscar, he found a productive partner in Russo. He would win a 2005 Emmy for HBO's movie of the Pulitzer-winning "Empire Falls."

"Cars" (2006, Pixar/Disney)

Newman's one live-action movie about auto racing (1969's "Winning") was a stiff. But computer animation offered restitution, with the actor's final theatrical feature keenly casting him as a judge with substantial racing-car history. It was a smooth project to go out on and a no-lose chance to widen his fan base. You could almost hear someone saying to some oblivious tyke: "You know that old geezer who was the voice of Doc Hudson? The guy's been a superstar for 50 years."

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