TOP LIST – A few days ago, on 18 August, Robert Redford, the iconic, handsome Hollywood actor, director, producer and also the founder of the Sundance Film Festival, turned 86. We’ve compiled a list of the legendary actor’s twelve best films, ranked in order of importance.
Robert Redford is a Hollywood icon, having starred in critically acclaimed films such as The Way We Were, The Big Sting, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to name but a few. Not only is he a fantastic actor, but he is also an accomplished director and producer, as well as the founder of the Sundance Institute and the creator of the Sundance Film Festival, which is the largest independent film festival in the United States. Redford was born in 1936 in Santa Monica, California, to parents Martha and Charles Redford. Redford moved to Van Nuys, Los Angeles, as a young man and attended Van Nuys High School, where he was self-described as a “bad” student, more interested in art and sports than his studies. After graduating high school, he worked and traveled in Europe before enrolling at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York in 1959.
A talented actor, he found success on stage with Broadway productions of Sunday in New York, Tall Story, The Highest Tree, and his most successful, Barefoot in the Park. In the early 1960s, Redford guest-starred in many of the popular television series of the era, including Perry Mason, The Untouchables, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. Throughout the 1960s, Redford also rose to prominence as a leading actor, starring in Inside Daisy Clover and This Property is Condemned, both alongside Natalie Wood. In 1969, Redford landed the role that made him a star alongside the legendary Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. This role cemented Redford’s role as a sarcastic but kind-hearted “bad boy” with a heart of gold on the silver screen. Here are Robert Redford’s best films, ranked. As they say: the rest is history…
Spy Game (2001)
Spy Game is a 2001 American action-thriller film directed by Tony Scott (Top Gun) and starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. The film grossed $62 million in the United States and $143 million worldwide on a budget of $115 million and received mostly positive reviews from film critics.
Redford plays the role of CIA agent Nathan Muir, who is on the verge of retirement when he learns that his protégé, Tom Bishop, played by Brad Pitt, has been arrested in China on espionage charges. Muir is no stranger to the machinations of the CIA’s top brass, so he puts all his skills and cunning to the test to find a way to free Bishop. It’s one of the better CIA films of the quality genre, and the Redford-Pitt duo make it well worth seeing if you haven’t already, not least because the realism of the film has barely aged it.
Indecent Proposal (1993)
Indecent Proposal is based on the novel of the same name by Jack Engelhardt. The film follows a down-on-their-luck couple, David (Woody Harrelson) and Diana Murphy (Demi Moore), who try to win a lot of cash in Vegas to improve their financial situation. Things don’t exactly go according to plan and the young couple end up losing everything until handsome hotshot John Gage (Redford) offers David $1 million for a night with his wife, Diana. According to a Forbes article, Erin Cressida Wilson has been hired to write the screenplay for the remake of the popular 90s film.
A River Runs Through It (1992)
Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by author Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It is directed by Redford, follows the lives of two Presbyterian brothers with opposing personalities as they come of age during the First World War, the Great Depression and Prohibition. The moving story was critically acclaimed and Redford received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director.
The Old Man and The Gun (2018)
The Old Man and The Gun is a crime thriller based on the real-life exploits of Forrest Trucker (Redford), a professional criminal and escape artist who, by his own account, has successfully broken out of prison 18 times. The film tells the story of his most famous escape from San Quentin State Prison, after which he remained at large for four years and committed a series of bank robberies that captured the public imagination. The film was also Redford’s final film before his retirement from acting in 2018.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Redford stars as the villain Alexander Pierce in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. According to Redford in an Entertainment Weekly interview,“The Avengers series is a product of cutting-edge technology that plays a big part in the new order of filmmaking, so I wanted to experience that – I just wanted to know what it was like and I got that opportunity, so for me it was like stepping into new territory just to experience it”.
Sneakers is a 1992 crime thriller with a story about a group of computer hackers who use their skills to carry out simulated cyber attacks on corporations as a form of penetration testing. The team is made up by former CIA agent Donald Crease, electronics technician Darren Roskow, hacker mastermind Carl Arbogast, blind telecom genius Whistler and fugitive Martin Bishop. Bishop was hired by the NSA to steal a mysterious ‘black box’ that was supposedly capable of decrypting every known computer system. Things go bad when Bishop’s past comes back to haunt him.
The Horse Whisperer (1998)
The Horse Whisperer is a 1998 American western drama film directed by and starring Robert Redford, based on the 1995 novel of the same name by Nicholas Evans. Redford plays the title character, a talented trainer with a remarkable ability to understand horses, who is hired to help an injured teenager (played by the still adolescent Scarlett Johansson) and her injured horse recover psychologically after a tragic accident.
Although he has directed several films, this is the first time Robert Redford has directed a film in which he has starred. Another interesting aspect of the drama is that, according to writer Nicholas Evans, the main character was modelled on a real “horse whisperer”.
The Natural (1984)
This 1984 Redford movie is based on Bernard Malamud’s novel of the same name, and it explores the fictional baseball player Roy Hobbs (Redford), who is endowed with a natural talent for the sport. According to Malamud, the character of Roy Hobbs is loosely based on real-life major leaguer Eddie Waitkus. The Natural is considered one of the best baseball movies of all time.
The Sting (1973)
The Sting is a Hollywood classic movie written by David S. Ward and inspired by real-life con men Fred and Charley Gondorff, as chronicled in David Maurer’s The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man. The film follows the revenge of two friends, Johnny Hooker (Redford), an aspiring con man, and Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman), a professional con man hiding from the FBI, after the murder of their mutual friend Luther Coleman (Robert Earl Jones). The pair hatch an elaborate plan to avenge their friend on the mob boss who had him killed.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Redford got his breakthrough role as the Sundance Kid alongside Paul Newman in the classic western film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which follows the bank-robbing duo through their crimes and exploits, right up to the final confrontation. The chemistry between Redford and Newman throughout the film has established the film’s status as a feel-good buddy movie and one of the best Westerns of all time.
Three Days of the Condor (1975)
The spy thriller Three Days of the Condor is based on James Grady’s 1974 novel Six Days of the Condor. A stylish and gripping political thriller that follows bookish CIA agent Joseph Turner (Redford), who returns from lunch one day to find that all his colleagues have been murdered. Turner must then try to survive and avoid his own assassination while trying to outwit those responsible for the gruesome crime. Despite being set in the 1970s, Three Days of the Condor is still relevant in the present day and is a must-see for espionage fans.
All the President’s Men (1976)
The political drama All the President’s Men is focusing on the infamous Watergate scandal and the subsequent downfall of Richard Nixon’s presidency. The film is based on the book by Bob Woodard (Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman), who actually investigated the scandal for The Washington Post. The film is incontestably one of the best movies about politics in film history.