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The Newton Boys (1998)

PG-13 | | Action, Crime, Drama | 27 March 1998 (USA)
Trailer
0:29 | Trailer
The story of the Newton gang, the most successful bank robbers in history, owing to their good planning and minimal violence.

Director:

Richard Linklater

Writers:

Claude Stanush (based on the book by), Richard Linklater (screenplay by) | 2 more credits »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Matthew McConaughey ... Willis Newton
Skeet Ulrich ... Joe Newton
Ethan Hawke ... Jess Newton
Gail Cronauer ... Ma Newton
Jena Karam Jena Karam ... Orphan Singer
Casey McAuliffe Casey McAuliffe ... Orphan Singer
Regina Mae Matthews Regina Mae Matthews ... Orphan Fiddler
Lew Temple ... Waiter
Dwight Yoakam ... Brentwood Glasscock
Charles Gunning Charles Gunning ... Slim
Glynn Williams Glynn Williams ... Farmer Williams
Charles 'Chip' Bray Charles 'Chip' Bray ... Bank Teller
Chloe Webb ... Avis Glasscock
Gary Moody Gary Moody ... Crooked Banker
Julianna Margulies ... Louise Brown
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Storyline

Four Newton brothers are a poor farmer family in the 1920s. The oldest of them, Willis, one day realizes that there's no future in the fields and offers his brothers to become a bank robbers. Soon the family agrees. They become very famous robbers, and five years later execute the greatest train robbery in American history. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Four brothers. Eighty banks. One hell of a good time. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence including bloody aftermath of a shooting, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At 24:05 into the movie, Dwight Yoakam looks into the camera, breaking the "fourth wall." See more »

Goofs

After the armoured car robbery, when the boys stop the car and fight about why it had gone so badly, a modern day wheelchair-access drop-down curb is seen. During the 20s, no such curb would have existed. They would have been straight across. See more »

Quotes

Joe: It's colder than a day-old dumpling!
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Crazy Credits

As the end credits roll, portions of two interviews are shown, each with one of the brothers. The interview with Joe Newton is from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Episode #18.29 (1980); the interview with Willis Newton is from The Newton Boys: Portrait of an Outlaw Gang (1976). See more »


Soundtracks

Right Or Wrong
Written by Arthur Sizemore (as Arthur L. Sizemore), Haven Gillespie, Paul Biese
Performed by Guy Forsyth and Bad Livers
Guy Forsyth appears courtesy of Antone's Records
See more »

User Reviews

 
Linklater's surprising but not altogether successful step into genre
12 June 2009 | by Chris KnippSee all my reviews

I watched this on DVD because it was recommended by Jonathan Rosenbaum on his ten-best list for the year, and the cast interested me, especially D'Onofrio and Skeet Ulrich. This confirms my admiration of the under-seen Ulrich, who's the doubting, conscience-stricken brother. His uneasiness stands out against the tedious good-old-boy jollity of the others. That shtick is a little too easy to do, and I don't think it gets the Twenties quite right, really. Rosenbaum is a great film critic but his end of the year recommendations are not always to be trusted, which makes you wonder about how written-in-stone his 1000 films list is. He also said that since the expansive images were a big part of the pleasure of the movie he didn't know how good it would be on DVD.

Gosh, was it really so easy to rob a bank in those days? The way some of the robberies go makes it look like it was all a cinch, but surely they'd be scared sometimes because you still stood to go to jail for it, maybe for a good long time. Actually it was easy to robe banks with square-doored safes, and it isn't so hard to hold up a little bank today.

This is surprising from Linklater not only because of the step into genre, but because of his willingness to glorify and simplify his good-boy/bad-boy crew. Where are the tormented and confused guys of his stoner movies? Matthew McConaughey certainly does rise to the challenge with a spirited and enthusiastic performance, but all his moments are still clichés. Hawke similarly grins and giggles in a quite shallow way. His character is not well defined and D'Onofiro, arguably the best actor of the bunch, is wasted. Statistically the Newton bank robbers were remarkable, but Ebert may be right that they are less famous than Dillinger or Bonnie and Clyde because they were too "respectable," i.e., dull. The screenplay lacks an angle, other than the glib one of boys on a lark, which fails to convince, and even when things go wrong, lacks a tragic dimension.

The action is desultory, lacking a strong focus on character or action or any guiding principle. Hence comparison with 'Bonnie and Clyde,' or more dashing adventures in the same vein like 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' or 'The Sting,' simply isn't really possible. This isn't in the same league. It utterly pales in comparison to European robbery films like 'Rififi' or the recent 'Mesrine' gangster epic starring Vincent Cassel. Only the few moments with Dwight Yoakam as Brentwood Glasscock, the brothers' explosives expert, provide a welcome 'Rififi'-like hint of bank-robbing as a challenging activity requiring certain skills and techniques.

This is not to say you can't have fun watching. These young actors are in their physical prime, and that includes the ladies, notably the handsome-looking Julianna Margulies as McConaughey's girlfriend. The period flavor is sometimes ripe and tasty. The production is very good-looking, and there is some nice cinematography: a silhouetted image of the mail train the Newton brothers are about to rob is particularly cool. The whole cadre things are set in, including the jaunty music, is conventional, but it's undeniably fun. The movie's a little long, but the climactic later scenes are involving. But still, this is very far from Linklater at his best, and Rosenbaum ought to admit he erred in ranking it so high.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 March 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Newton Boys See more »

Filming Locations:

Martindale, Texas, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$27,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,010,245, 29 March 1998

Gross USA:

$10,452,012

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$10,452,012
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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