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Robert Redford: His 9 Best Roles In Film

August 10, 2018

With the recent news that Hollywood icon Robert Redford is retiring from acting, there’s no better time to look back on some of his most amazing film roles.

Earlier this week, legendary actor Robert Redford announced he would be retiring from the acting world. It was news that no doubt stung movie fans, especially those of the boomer era. Redford, who is also an Academy Award winning director and founder of the Sundance Film Festival, was one of the biggest movie stars of all-time. He struck that difficult chord between appealing to mainstream audiences and being a critically acclaimed talent. His final film, The  Old Man & the Gun will be released later this year and thankfully he is leaving behind a considerable amount of amazing performances and movies for audiences to enjoy for years and years to come.

Let’s take a look back at this amazing career of Robert Redford some of his best roles.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Redford is one of those iconic actors with so many amazing films that it’s hard to point to one defining role. But Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid would certainly be in the running. Redford plays the younger half of the titular duo, the Sundance Kid, a real life train robber and partner to Butch Cassidy (played by Paul Newman). Sundance is more serious, short-tempered and a killer shot (so long as he’s allowed to move) but Redford brings endless charisma to the role. Together with Newman, they created one of the most lovable onscreen pairs of all-time in this wild, thrilling and funny Western.

The Sting (1973)

Anyone who saw Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid knew it would be a good idea to Newman and Redford onscreen again together. So it should have been no surprise that 4 years later the two paired up for this delightful con man caper. Newman and Redford play two grifters who target a violent mobster as their next target. This is a movie that inspired many but there’s nothing quite like fun of the original. The two co-stars once again prove to be enormously entertaining together. It’s a shame this was the last time they would share the screen.

The Candidate (1972)

Redford was always outspoken about politics and pushed to address a lot of that world in his films. It’s fitting then that he would help to spearhead one of the best and most relevant political satires ever made. Redford plays Bill McKay, a passionate and dedicated lawyer who is recruited to run for Senator of California. With no hope to win, McKay is free to talk about what he wants and run the campaign he wants. Slowly the political world eats away at his ideals and corrupts his message. An amazingly pointed and accurate portrayal of the political world, and though it’s nearly 50 years old, it feels very relevant today.

All the President’s Men (1976)

As much as The Candidate spoke to Redford’s political nature, that was nothing compared to where he went with All the President’s Men. The true story of the Watergate Scandal and the reporters who took down the Nixon presidency. Redford plays Bob Woodward partnered with Dustin Hoffman’s Carl Bernstein. A very different energy than his pairings with Paul Newman, but still electric. Though Redford was a driving force behind getting this movie made, he avoids making it a film about his own politics and instead explores the meticulous work of investigated journalism.

Three Days of the Condor (1975)

The post-Watergate era saw a rise in the paranoid political thriller genre. There was something shady and untrustworthy about those in power and Hollywood was keen to pick up on that feeling. Redford plays mild-mannered CIA researcher who stumbles upon information that makes him the target for deadly operatives. It is a taut and tense thriller with a stellar lead performance from Redford who manages to be both the hero and everyday-man.

Captain America: The Winter Solider (2014)

Not even an actor like Robert Redford could escape the superhero movie sensation. Though before you dismiss it outright, this is one of the more impressive films in the genre. Following our hero, Captain America as a soldier transplanted from WWII era to modern times. Cap soon finds that in the 21st century, it’s harder to know who the real enemies are. The film owes a lot to the 70s paranoid thrillers which is why Redford’s involvement is so fun. He gets to take on the rare villain role as the government head honcho hunting down the hero on the run.

The Natural (1984)

Who better to headline a movie about America’s favourite pastime than Robert Redford? He plays a mysterious middle-aged batter who seemingly comes from nowhere. With his unbelievable talent, he saves a struggling team in the 1930s. Sure, it’s a little sentimental but most good baseball movies are. However it’s an irresistible and pleasing film that will make just about anyone want to pick up a bat.

Jerimiah Johnson (1972)

Though the Western genre is no longer as strong as it once was, there are plenty of classics to fill the void. Once the 70s rolled around, the genre started to experiment beyond just the sheriff versus outlaws storyline. In this excellent entry into the genre, Redford plays the titular mountain man, a hermit who want to live in peace and solitude but is put in the middle of a violent conflict. A terrific and thoughtful film about growing and understanding a world outside your own.

All is Lost (2013)

Redford has remained a popular and active actor even in the later years of his career. In fact, this, one of his most recent films, marks one of his absolute best performances. Redford plays an unnamed man on a solo sailing trip who finds his life in danger when his boat is damaged and begins to sink. It’s a barebones film and Redford’s performance is almost entirely wordless (save for a few choice curse words). But it is nonetheless a powerful performance as a man trying his very best to survive in an environment that seems determined to kill him.

What’s your favourite Robert Redford film?


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