Cool Hand Luke (1967): One of the definitive, iconic movies from the late 1960s. Newman is Lucas Jackson, a WWII vet sentenced to a chain gang in the deep South for chopping the heads off parking meters. Newman is the classic rebel who refuses to be done in by the system or authority. George Kennedy, Strother Martin and a deep supporting cast of character actors help make this gem.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969): If Cool Hand Luke is his most iconic, this is Newman's most entertaining movie. A perfectly-written movie about the closing days in the wild west as outlaws Butch Cassiday (Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) decide whether to stay outlaws or go straight. The Newman-Redford pairing is one of the all-time greats.
Sometimes a Great Notion (1970): A Newman-directed venture, this is an underrated story about how difficult it can be at times for a family to be a...family. Newman, Henry Fonda, Richard Jaeckel, Michael Sarrazin and Lee Remick are the core of a logging family in the Pacific Northwest trying to hold off the advances of a company trying to buy them out. Heartbreaking at times but well worth it.
The Left-Handed Gun (1958): Billy the Kid if he was a psychotic teenager with Daddy issues. An overdone performance from Newman in an Arthur Penn-directed western. Just a surprisingly bad western/movie overall.
The Hustler (1961): Another iconic part for Newman as a young pool hustler trying to take down the champ, Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason). The first 30 minutes are basically perfect, but the pacing struggles from there on in. Still, Newman, a scene-stealing Gleason and George C. Scott will make any movie worth checking out.
Slap Shot (1977): A hugely entertaining sports movie that I feel like I missed the boat on. After a strong start, I lost almost all interest in this minor league hockey story. Newman is the player-coach of a hockey team struggling to stay afloat. Moments of brilliance, stretches of tedium.
Lady L (1965): An odd quasi-romantic comedy period piece that is solely worthwhile because Newman, Sophia Loren, and David Niven are around in this Peter Ustinov-directed oddity.
Paris Blues (1961): Newman and Sidney Poitier star as jazz musicians in Paris looking to get to that next big stage....only to be undone by LOVE! A little heavy, little overdramatic but worthwhile.
Pocket Money (1972): Teaming with Lee Marvin, Newman plays a somewhat slow cowboy trying to make a quick buck along the Texas/Mexico border in the 1960s. Somewhat funny, a little dramatic, it can't quite pick a tone and stick with it. Still, it's Paul Newman and Lee Marvin!
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972): Everyone and their mother stars in this John Huston-directed western that's partially/loosely based on western judge Leroy Parker. Newman gets to ham it up a bit with countless stars making appearances, some more memorable than others in this revisionist western.
Coming soon: The Sting!