Today is Robert Redford’s 85th birthday. His works won him worldwide cinematic fame and a slew of accolades, including Oscars, as an actor, director, and producer.
To wish the cinema legend a happy birthday, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten favorite films of his.
We’ll cover a lot of the songs you’re familiar with,
as well as some lesser-known tunes that need to be heard. Note that this list only covers films in which he appeared, thus there will be no films in which he solely directed, such as “Ordinary People” or “Quiz Show.” Read on for our top choices (and honorable mentions):
10) Indecent Proposal (1993)
For one night with his wife, Redford portrays a millionaire who gives $1 million to a young married couple (Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson). The picture has changed a lot in three decades, but Redford’s sleazy, wealthy man has never been seen as a hero. Even when he’s pushing a couple into prostitution that may destroy their marriage, the actor gives a gravity that tricks you into believing the man could be nice after all. Adrian Lyne, filmmaker of “Fatal Attraction” and “Unfaithful.”
9) All is Lost (2013)
Despite his best attempts, a resourceful sailor finds himself facing his death in the face after colliding with a cargo container at sea. In writer/director J.C. Chandor’s horrific lost-at-sea thriller, Redford hardly speaks a word, offering the actor a physically demanding and emotionally rewarding role in the twilight of his career.
8) Three Days of the Condor (1975)
In Sydney Pollack’s suspenseful espionage thriller, starring Faye Dunaway and a sinister Max Von Sydow, Redford plays a bookish CIA researcher who discovers all of his coworkers have been murdered. He must outsmart those responsible until he learns who he can really trust. You may recall George Clooney mentioning it in “Out of Sight” when he was trapped in the trunk of a vehicle with Jennifer Lopez.
7) The Horse Whisperer. (1998)
A mother of a badly traumatized daughter enlists the assistance of a one-of-a-kind horse trainer (Redford) to heal her daughter’s similarly wounded horse. With Redford in command both behind and in front of the camera, he plays opposite Kristin Scott Thomas and a teenage Scarlett Johannson in this gorgeously filmed, sensitive version of Nick Evans’ book. The musical compositions of Thomas Newman are equally noteworthy.
6) The Candidate (1972)
Redford portrays Bill McKay, a U.S. Senate candidate from California who has little chance of winning, at least until he does, in a volatile political environment that favors change when he tinkers with the status quo. This film, directed by Michael Ritchie, showcases Redford’s star power as an idealistic politician who simply wants to win his campaign.
Your father believes this is far down on the priority list. Redford portrays a mountain man who wants to live a hermit’s existence in this cult classic directed by the late Sydney Pollack, and finds himself the unwitting target of a lengthy vengeance by the Crow tribe on the early frontier. Beautiful landscapes and photography, along with Redford’s charm and dedication to the daring character, give this a vast scope.
4) The Natural (1984)
Redford plays an obscure baseball player who rises from obscurity to become a renowned player with near-divine ability. It contains many classic sports movie scenes, culminating in one of cinema’s most exciting and emotional sequences. Sappy? Sure, but baseball can’t help but be romanticized. As close to a Robert Redford part as a cinematic role can get. It was probably your father’s favorite sports film.
3) The Sting (1973)
In George Roy Hill’s second outing with Redford and his renowned co-star Paul Newman,
two crooks join together to pull off the ultimate scam when a high-rolling mafia leader kills one of their buddies in 1930s Chicago. The film’s chemistry was no fluke, and it helped it win best picture at the Academy Awards. Two hours of sheer joy, punctuated not just by the actors’ star power, but also by David S. Ward’s snappy screenplay and Robert Shaw’s criminal boss, Doyle Lonnegan. Do you understand?
2) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
“I can’t swim!” exclaims the speaker. In their hour of need, on the run from an angry posse after stealing a succession of banks and railroads, Redford’s usually too-cool-for-school Sundance Kid confesses to his accomplice, Butch Cassidy. The performers’ connection pierced the tough guy cowboy aura, which had been uncommon in Westerns up until that time. No matter who they cast, George Roy Hill’s surehand directing of William Goldman’s ageless (and funny) screenplay would have produced a classic, but — yeah, right — you can’t picture anybody else as Butch or Sundance.
1) All the President’s Men (1976)
In what has become the standard-bearer in movies about journalism,
Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) discover the facts of the Watergate crisis that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation, no insult to “Spotlight”.
It stresses the need for government accountability and the responsibility of the American press to keep our officials accountable, regardless of their position of power, and it may be just as prophetic in 2021 as it was in 1976. In Alan J. Pakula’s action-packed political thriller, Redford is the driving force. Yes, the “action” is mainly phone conversations and covert meetings in parking garages, but they get more thrills out of it than most would-be action movies these days.
Downhill Racer (1969), The Way We Were (1973), Out of Africa (1985), Sneakers (1992), Spy Game (2001),
and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are among the honorable mentions (2014).