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redford.jpgWith a new Robert Redford film (“Lions For Lambs”) coming out, I figured it was a good time to list the top 10 Inspirational films that he’s either been in, directed or produced. There’s been a lot of attention paid to his commercial appeal as well as Sundance’s impact on the Indie film market, but he’s been overlooked for the inspirational nature of some of his projects. It may be because his politics have been counter to the religious right for a long time, but he’s clearly been a filmmaker with a purpose.
With apologies to those who loved “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” “Quiz Show” and “A River Runs Through It,” here’s my list of his Top Ten in (of course!) reverse order:


#10. “Sneakers.” A redemptive story about a band of buddies—all needing a second chance—coming together to beat the bad guys. It’s also about the painful choice many of us have to make, which is to move on from our old friends when our values change significantly. Would be higher on the list except for the clumsy ending.
#9. “The Sting.” How many of us would love to get even with a Doyle Lonigan who’s done something evil to someone we love? Plus, there’s just gotta be a Redford-Newman pic on the list.
#8. Tie between “Brubaker” and “The Last Castle.” Both were Redford’s attempts to shed light on the injustices inflicted upon those incarcerated, who’ve become the modern-day lepers of our society.
#7. “Legal Eagles.” This was mostly light fare but it includes one of the finest courtroom scenes you’ll ever see about the pursuit of truth and how much we forget the power and foundational need for the presumption of innocence.
#6. “Jeremiah Johnson.” For all of us flat-landers who’d love to find the beauty of the mountains and the simplicity we’d wish to find, this was a vicarious trip with a humility and realism rarely found in superstar movies.
#5. Tie between “All the President’s Men” and “The Candidate.” It’s hard to tell what caused America to take a closer look at its leaders more: the Watergate Scandal, or the movie portraying the improbable odds and single-minded focus that brought the scandal to public light. And perhaps I was just young, but seeing “The Candidate” was the first time I realized that political campaigns were truly more about winning than being right, and that having the actual ability to make our country a better place is a second-fiddle concern in a campaign.
#4. “The Milagro Beanfield War.” One of the purest films you’ll ever see, about spirits, traditions, beans and how the commitment of a few can overcome the corruption of the crowd.
#3. “Out of Africa.” It was Meryl’s movie, but Redford’s portrayal of an uncompromising man more committed to his ethics than his desires gave new meaning to “to thine own self be true,” and set a great example for a lot of guys who thought they were just going to a chick movie as a favor to their date.
#2. “The Electric Horseman.” Rarely has there been a better movie about how a sinner can find some morality after he’s pushed to his limit. Guy or girl, red or blue, old or young, and animal lovers all, it’s hard not to find inspiration in this tale of a drunkard who stands up to the powers-that-be and the woman who sheds her professional instincts to find personal wholeness.
#1. “The Natural.” Most of us believe we were born to achieve more than what we’re currently doing. We were just thrown off track somewhere along the way. Watching this will give you the courage to rediscover what it was and risk everything to go try it. Some said the ending was too “Hollywood” or impossible until Kirk Gibson achieved it in real life at the 1987 World Series!
“Whaaht!” you say, where’s “Butch Cassidy” or “Three Days of The Condor” or his other classics. Well, I liked ’em but they didn’t qualify as inspiring. You of course may have your own opinion and can post here.

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