The Newton Boys

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The Newton Boys
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Linklater
Produced by Keith Fletcher
John Sloss
Clark Lee Walker
Claude Stanush
Screenplay by Clark Lee Walker
Richard Linklater
Based on The Newton Boys 
by Claude Stanush & David Middleton; State House Press; 1994
Starring Matthew McConaughey
Skeet Ulrich
Ethan Hawke
Vincent D'Onofrio
Music by Edward D. Barnes
Cinematography Peter James
Edited by Sandra Adair
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • March 28, 1998 (1998-03-28)
Running time
113 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $27 million
Box office $10,452,012

The Newton Boys is a 1998 American comedy-drama film based on the true story of the Newton Gang, a family of bank robbers from Uvalde, Texas. The film stars Matthew McConaughey, who was actually born in Uvalde, Texas, Skeet Ulrich, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Dwight Yoakam. It was filmed in Austin, Bartlett, New Braunfels, and San Antonio, Texas.


Due to a miscarriage of justice Willis Newton was in prison. Afterwards he worked on a farm and was in love with the owner's daughter. Their marriage was confounded when her father was informed that Willis had been a convict. Willis returns to his family's land and tells his mother how the farmer offered him to stay as a mere worker. Still upset he craves a chance to escape poverty and goes to town. Willis meets with two criminals named Slim and Glasscock in a western saloon. The proprietor is an Indian chief who got rich when oil was found on his land. Word is the chief would not have even been allowed to enter the saloon as a guest before that. Thus Willis learns that social climbing is possible for him too if only he happens to get to a lot of money. Now he will collect a great deal of money by robbing banks until he can purchase an oil well.

Slim persuades Willis and Glasscock to carry out a bank robbery in broad daylight. Slim is caught when all three of them try to escape on horseback while the sheriff chases them in a car. Willis and Glasscock later find a bank director who buys the looted war bonds and sells them information on plenty of other banks. Henceforth, Willis and Glasscock rob banks at night and get away by car. Glasscock turns out being an expert with nitroglycerin. Willis talks his brothers into supporting him. He tells them that bankers are the worst crooks of all and therefore robbing their money would only mean that little thieves stole from big thieves. He also says all banks were insured anyway and the insurance companies ought to be thankful because they couldn't sell any insurances if there wasn't a bank robbery every now and then.

The Newton Gang is very prolific and some bankers prove to be the crooks Willis takes them for because they exaggerate their losses. Subsequently the insurance companies force banks to invest in enhanced safes. The new safes withstand nitroglycerin. Consequently, the Newton Gang goes to Toronto and ambushes a cash transport in broad daylight. Despite an elaborate plan many things go awry and the gang members can scarcely escape. Willis decides to become "legal". The oil spring Willis purchased is a huge setback that costs him nearly all his money. In his despair he goes as far as telling his wife that God didn't want him to be "legit". After that he is easily lured into another criminal endeavor. He gets very enthusiastic about a train robbery at night. Unfortunately Glasscock is not as good with a gun as he was with nitroglycerin. He confuses Dock Newton with a guard, panics and shoots him. Willis needs to bring his wounded brother to a doctor and this undertaking eventually blows their cover.

All Newton Brothers are finally arrested and sentenced.



It received mixed to positive reviews from critics, with a 62% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 37 reviews.[1]


  1. ^ "The Newton Boys (1998)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 

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