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Paul Newman Wasn’t the King of Cool, He Was the King of Con


Sure, Paul Newman was cool. So was Steve McQueen. So was James Dean. So was Brando. But no actor was better at selling a good con than Newman with his roguish good looks, and his baby blues. Here are four memorable turns from one of the few guys who could sell the Brooklyn Bridge.

1. The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
Newman plays a member of the board of directors of Hudsucker Industries. Following the dramatic suicide of the founder and president, he comes up with the perfect scheme: Hire a total moron to head up the company, watch the stock fall, buy up all of the stock for a pittance, then get rid of the moron in charge. Unfortunately, Tim Robbins’ moron turns out to be so stupid, he’s smart. The plan is foiled. Still, it was a good con.

 2. The Hustler (1961)
One of Newman’s first hits. Pool hustler “Fast Eddie” Nelson is traveling cross country to beat legendary pool shark “Minnesota Fats” (Jackie Gleason). The cons in the film are the typical pool hall variety: Hustling lesser players by pretending to be humble. Most of the movie focuses on gambling but how different is a gambler from a con man who operates in the open?

3. The Color of Money (1986)
In this pseudo-sequel to The Hustler, most of the conning comes from co-star Tom Cruise as Vincent, who throws a match to “Fast Eddie” Nelson, because he had money riding against himself. “Fast Eddie,” no stranger to the con (see above), challenges him again, and this time, they play straight.

4. The Sting (1973)
Not only does The Sting show Newman at his conning best, it’s also arguably the best con man movie of all time. A brilliant cast (Robert Redford joins Newman) and script make this one of the few perfect movies ever made; at one point even the audience is duped.

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