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The 11 Robert Redford movies every fan should watch

Is your favorite Redford film on the list?

Robert Redford in All the President's Men answering the telephone.
Warner Bros.

Robert Redford is one of those classic movie stars who disarmed you with his incredible looks, and then mesmerized you with his on-screen talent. He’s not an actor’s actor like Robert De Niro, but he’s shown for decades what type of performer he is. Redford’s charm and natural charisma have made him compelling in a wide variety of roles, and they’ve also occasionally been weaponized against his audience.

Not every role in Redford’s decades-long career has been a roaring success. For every All the President’s Men there’s a stinker like Havana. In general, though, Redford has built a remarkable body of work, and if he never acts in front of a camera again, he can be proud of what he’s accomplished.

The Sting (1973)

The Sting
83 %
pg 129m
Genre Comedy, Crime, Drama
Stars Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw
Directed by George Roy Hill
In an era where many of the most legendary movies are dark or cynical, The Sting was a light, frothy alternative. The movie stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford as an aging thief and an aspiring con man, respectively, who decide to team up to avenge the death of a mutual friend. It’s a heist movie at its core, and The Sting executes its heist flawlessly. Thanks to deeply captivating performances from both Newman and Redford, The Sting holds up as a great piece of entertainment, even if it lacks some of the heavier themes that were typical of movies of its era.

Read More: Best All-Time Comedy Movies

All the President's Men (1976)

All the President's Men
84 %
pg 138m
Genre Drama, History, Mystery, Thriller
Stars Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Martin Balsam
Directed by Alan J. Pakula
Although it’s almost 50 years old now, All the President’s Men still stands as maybe the best film about journalism ever made. The film tells the mostly true story of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the reporters who inadvertently discovered the Watergate scandal that took down President Nixon. The film works because it lives in the shadows of a corrupt political universe. Nothing is exactly as it seems in All the President’s Men, and getting to the truth is much harder than it should be for two people investigating the most powerful man in the world.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Genre Action, Adventure, Science Fiction
Stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan
Directed by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

It takes a lot of courage for a classic movie star like Robert Redford to realize the gravity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and audiences are certainly glad he did. Redford portrays a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent with villainous intentions in this Captain America film. He serves as a secondary antagonist alongside the Winter Soldier. Redford would appear in several other future Marvel projects, such as Avengers: Endgame.

The Old Man & the Gun (2018)

The Old Man & the Gun
80 %
pg-13 94m
Genre Comedy, Crime, Drama
Stars Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck
Directed by David Lowery
The Old Man and the Gun wasn’t technically Robert Redford’s last onscreen performance, but it was supposed to be. In the movie, Redford plays an aging thief who manages to escape from prison and goes on a tear, robbing places across the country. As he almost always is, Redford is charming in the role, and the film is as much about his commitment to thievery as art as it is about him reckoning with the life he’s chosen to lead. This is one of two collaborations with David Lowery on this list, and it’s clear from their work together that Lowery knows how to lean into Redford’s incredible charisma.

All Is Lost (2013)

All Is Lost
87 %
pg-13 106m
Genre Action, Adventure, Drama
Stars Robert Redford
Directed by J.C. Chandor
All is Lost relies almost entirely on Redford’s ability to captivate an audience. The movie, which didn’t even earn him an Oscar nomination as it should have, follows Redford as an experienced mariner who finds himself sailing into a dangerous storm. Playing out largely in silence, All is Lost works only because Redford can sell every second of what his character is going through without verbalizing any of it. All is Lost is a movie about survival, and Redford’s performance sits at the center, proving that even after being a star for 40 years, he was still one of the best in the game.

Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Three Days of the Condor
63 %
r 117m
Genre Thriller, Mystery, Adventure
Stars Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson
Directed by Sydney Pollack
Other than All the President’s MenThree Days of the Condor may be Redford’s most iconic work from the 1970s. Redford plays an ordinary CIA codebreaker in the film who goes out for lunch one day, only to return and discover that his entire office staff has been murdered. His discovery leads him to uncover a devious conspiracy that involves the CIA, and he’s forced to run for his life to avoid going the same way as the rest of his team. Redford co-stars with Faye Dunaway and both actors deliver marvelous performances as two scared people fighting for the truth and their lives.

Read More: Best Thriller Movies

Pete's Dragon (2016)

Pete's Dragon
71 %
pg 103m
Genre Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Stars Oakes Fegley, Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley
Directed by David Lowery
Redford is not the main character in Pete’s Dragon, but he’s a huge part of what makes the movie work. Redford plays something like a village elder, and it’s his daughter who ultimately discovers that there’s a dragon living in the woods around their rural home. Redford gets to display plenty of wisdom in the role, and he fits perfectly in this world of gentle magic. Redford has always been a great movie star, but he’s also passionate about film as an art form, and his wonder at the magic of the movies is on full display in Pete’s Dragon.

Read More: Best All-Time Action Movies

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
66 %
pg 111m
Genre Western, Drama, Crime
Stars Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross
Directed by George Roy Hill
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a story about two rebels who never found their place in the world. As an early part of the wave of New Hollywood films, Butch Cassidy took a pair of real-life outlaws and turned them into romantic figures fighting against authority. Redford and Paul Newman are both thoroughly captivating in their roles, and the film takes plenty of time to sketch out the relationship between them. These two were friends, even if they spent much of their time thieving and evading the long arm of the law.

Jeremiah Johnson (1972)

Jeremiah Johnson
75 %
pg 108m
Genre Adventure, Western, History
Stars Robert Redford, Will Geer, Delle Bolton
Directed by Sydney Pollack
Set in the 1830s, Jeremiah Johnson tells the story of a Mexican-American War veteran who decides to live a life of quiet isolation in the mountains. As time passes, he finds a mentor who teaches him how to live in the wilderness and he eventually winds up with a family as well. The movie is thrilling, in part because Jeremiah finds himself coming face to face with a hostile Native American tribe. More than that, though, Jeremiah Johnson is about a man who’s trying to escape from his past, and finding that escape more difficult than he imagined it to be.

The Candidate (1972)

The Candidate
66 %
pg 110m
Genre Comedy, Drama
Stars Robert Redford, Peter Boyle, Melvyn Douglas
Directed by Michael Ritchie
Redford’s boyish good looks could sometimes put him at odds with the political thrillers that dominated the Hollywood he entered into at the beginning of his career, but in The Candidate, he found a role that suited him perfectly. Redford plays a leftist lawyer in the film who gets recruited for a Senate bid against an admired Republican. As the election approaches, Redford’s character is gradually pushed toward the center, and his once authentic political message starts to sound like drivel. He compromises to win and loses who he is in the process.

The Natural (1984)

The Natural
61 %
Genre Drama
Stars Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close
Directed by Barry Levinson

The Natural is a pretty hokey, but not in a bad way. The movie follows an aging baseball player of incredible skill who didn’t get a chance to play in the majors because he was violently attacked at a young age. As he approaches the end of his career, he finally gets his shot at the big show and is forced to confront the money and politics that govern the game at that level. The Natural is one of Redford’s most earnest performances. He’s playing a man in love with a game who’s trying to save that game from the business that it has transformed into.

Read More: Best All-Time Sports Movies

Editors' Recommendations

Movie images and data from:
Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance culture writer based in upstate New York. His work has been published in The Washington Post, The…
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