Robert Redford, actor, director and producer, was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2014, and there’s definitely a good reason for that. His acting career began on stage in the 1950s, and since then he has won many different awards, including an Oscar, BAFTA, two Golden Globes, and even the Presidential Medal of Freedom. However, perhaps one of his greatest accomplishments is becoming a founding member of the popular Sundance Film Festival.
There’s no doubt that Redford’s career took off when he started in the film industry in the 60s, especially thanks to the many awards and nominations he won during the time. In fact, some might say the 60s and 70s were the height of his career, producing some of his best films. For this reason, however, many of his post-1980 films are overlooked in favor of the classics. Even at the current age of 86, Redford is still a powerful and magnetic presence on screen. Here are some of his best movies from the 80s and older, to highlight some of the overlooked ones.
seven Indecent Proposal
The drama Indecent Proposal is based on a novel of the same name. David and Diana Murphy are a happy couple who hope to design and build their dream home. Investing their money in a beachfront property, they begin construction, but the recession leaves them struggling to save their land from repossession. After traveling to Vegas to earn money, Diana catches the eye of billionaire John Gage.
Because of his interest in her, Gage offers the couple an offer they can’t refuse: a million dollars to spend a night with her. Desperate for the money, they end up agreeing, unaware of the repercussions it could have on their relationship. The film was a hit, and although it didn’t have the best reception, the game was often praised, with Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson and Redford all doing a great job. Redford played Gage, bringing the antagonist to life and making him as cocky as one would expect from Gage.
6 Outside of Africa
Another film based on a book, Outside of Africa is a story about writer Karen Blixen. She was a single, wealthy Danish woman who moved to Africa when she married Baron Bror Blixen out of convenience. He was supposed to take his money and start a dairy farm, but instead used it for a coffee farm that was too high to succeed. She stayed there for a while though, often alone as Bror is more interested in leading game hunting safaris, taking her away from their home for long periods of time.
She grows to be respected during her time there, caring for the people who squat on her land by teaching them and taking care of their medical needs, among other things. Her experience there before the farm burned down was unique, and it’s clear she touched many lives in Africa. Redford brings Denys Finch Hatton to the big screen. Hatton was a big game hunter who was also one of Karen’s lovers when she was in Africa. He really makes the role believable and adds a new dimension to Karen’s story, and they have a passionate chemistry in this great Oscar-winning film.
Sneakers is a crime thriller, updated for a more modern era. Martin Brice and Cosmo are hackers, working together to fund leftist organizations until Cosmo is arrested. Martin goes on the run, renaming himself Martin Bishop and eventually leading a computer security team. When approached by NSA agents who claim to know his past, they ask for help in retrieving a black box from a local mathematician in exchange for his name being cleared.
Of course, not everything goes as planned, as exciting plots and character reveals change the narrative. Martin is played by Redford, who shows us the intricacies and difficulties of going up against an old friend who no longer shares the same morals as you. His acting really helps carry the story.
4 Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The second Captain America film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, follows Steve Rogers as he begins to adjust to the modern world and joins SHIELD After rescuing SHIELD hostages from a pirate who has captured their ship, Rogers discovers that his mission and that of his team, in particular Natasha Romanoff, are different because she extracts data from computers. Shortly after confronting Nick Fury about lying, there is an assassination attempt which leads Rogers to pursue the assassin known only as The Winter Soldier.
Redford plays Alexander Pierce, a high-ranking member of SHIELD and the Secretary for International Security. While he and Fury are friends in his first appearance, it is soon revealed that Pierce is the one who hired the assassin, and is actually the head of Hydra hidden within SHIELD Redford knows exactly how to play the bad guy, acting innocent before the big reveal, and being such a big villain only boosts the movie.
The sports movie Natural is also another film based on a book of the same name. Roy Hobbs learned to play baseball with his father, but his father died after a heart attack. Lightning shatters the tree his father died next to, so Hobbs takes the broken wood and turns it into his own baseball bat, complete with lightning bolt design. Hobbs is soon revealed to have great baseball prowess, beating a famous baseball player in a carnival game en route to trying out for the Chicago Cubs.
For some reason, however, he was barred from playing baseball professionally for another 16 years, until he signed with the struggling New York Knights, which he tried to turn around despite many problems. Redford plays Roy Hobbs, settling in beautifully as the titular character. Although he did not receive any of the movie award nominations, there is no doubt that his performance in this great baseball movie is a classic and one that will be remembered by many.
2 The old man and the gun
The biographical detective film The old man and the gun chronicles the life of Forrest Tucker, a career criminal known for being an escape artist. The film begins late in his life, where he is a wanted man for escaping from San Quentin State Prison two years prior. He has just robbed another bank, and to evade the police, pulls over and helps a woman on the side of the road with her car problem, watching the police drive by without noticing. Jewel, the woman he has just helped, buys Tucker’s lunch for her help, and he quickly becomes smitten with her.
Redford plays Tucker, showing us the role of the criminal who, despite being in and out of prison his whole life, still has a soft side and can still fall in love. His performance earned him Best Actor nominations for the Golden Globes and Satellite Awards, proving he’s still amazing even in his 80s. The supporting cast is also phenomenal, with Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover, Elisabeth Moss and Tom Waits giving great performances in David Lowery’s very fine film.
1 All is lost
All is lost is a unique film with a single actor: Robert Redford. The story revolves around an unnamed man lost at sea in one series of unfortunate events after another. When his boat collided with a lost shipping container in the middle of the night, it ripped a hole in the hull and damaged many of the ship’s controls, including the radio.
After patching the hole and removing the water, he first tries to repair the radio by connecting it to one of the boat’s batteries, hoping to call for help, but a storm sends him finally adrift on his life raft. Redford is perfect here in this film about survival and hope, trying to find help and keep himself alive as his supplies dwindle. It’s an almost wordless performance from a man who was 77 at the time and still quite capable of carrying a film with his physical presence.