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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rain Drops Keep Fallin' On My Head...

So it was pretty sad to wake up today to the news of Paul Newman's death. But I try not to allow myself to get too sad about the passing of a writer, actor or notable personage; rather, I shoot for appreciation and gratitude. Paul Newman lived a good long life and left behind a cinematic legacy.

When I was growing up, Paul Newman and Robert Redford were the George Clooney and Brad Pitt of their time. They were the epitome of handsome, sexy, movie-stars. I am sure that I have not seen every Paul Newman performance - there are some notable absences that I plan to rectify. I have not seen HUD, for one.

The performances that spring to mind that I really loved were :

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Cool Hand Luke
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The Sting
The Color of Money

Probably my favorite was Butch Cassidy. Which, incidentally, I rewatched not long ago and while the great moments were as great as I recall, was also rather dated in a number of ways. But that movie still has one of the best movie endings ever. Who can forget that scene as Butch and Sundance talk about their next heist opportunity in Australia, knowing full well it will never happen and then rush out to a hail of bullets?

Mr. and Mrs. Bridge was a disappointment to me - I had read the books and absolutely LOVED them - (the movie collapsed two books into one movie). The performances were good but the movie just didn't deliver the same experience as the books by far.

What's your favorite Paul Newman performance?

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Steve Axelrod said...

Hud was great. But more recently you should check out Nobody's Fool. Just wonderful. Ditto supporting roles in such diverse films as Message in a Bottle and Road to Perdition. My kids thought he was a marinara sauce maker! So I gave them a crash course -- everything from Somebody Up There Likes Me to Absence of Malice. You have to take the resonsibilities of parenthood seriously!

Chris said...

As an attorney, I love his performance in "The Verdict." Kind of the anti-Atticus Finch but still with the same fire for justice for his client.

Julie Gray said...

Steve, my kids are the progeny of cinephile and while they resisted and bemoaned it for some time, my 15 year old daughter is the one who told me of Newman's death and shortly thereafter that her favorite performance was Butch Cassidy. This is the same kid who told her doctor, at age five, that Sunset Boulevard was her favorite movie. I tell ya.

Kirkland said...

There are absolutely too many Newman film too list.

But, besides the obvious Butch & Sundance, I tend to prefer his "lesser" roles:

The Secret War of Harry Figg, Hombre, The Young Philadelphians...

But by far one if my personal favorite role was Paul Newman as Sully Sullivan in , "Nobody's Fool." Depth and texture marked that performance--as it did in all his choices, both on screen and off.

Dave Shepherd said...

I shall watch some movies out of respect. Like you said, appreciation and gratitude.

What's interesting about Butch is that William Goldman wishes he didn't write any dialog when they're trapped -- if he could change things, that whole Austrailia exchange never would've happened. He thinks it made the situation too light. (from Which Lie Did I Tell?)

Julie Gray said...

You know, I like that dialog about Australia because it's so sad...they still dream even though it's clearly all about to end, horribly. I find that exchange really poignant.

Deb said...

THE HUSTLER - I love THE COLOR OF MONEY, but the original appearance of Fast Eddie is the best.

THE LONG HOT SUMMER - the chemistry between Newman and Joanne Woodward (the movie was made just after they first fell in love) is so palpable.

One that I like that many probably aren't that aware of is FROM THE TERRACE. This time he and Woodward play a very estranged couple. The story is somewhat soapy in spots, but I like the way it portrays the toll on men who pursue success at any cost.

HUD is not a favorite of mine, mostly because movies about misanthropes don't really interest me. But you can't deny how good he is in it. I watched a scene recently where he's flirting with Patricia Neal. Newman put across the character's mixture of charm and vileness so perfectly.

Interesting how people keep mentioning getting kids to watch old movies. I don't have children of my own, but I started showing my niece and nephew classic movies from the time they were little. They count BUTCH CASSIDY as a favorite, too.

Hey, how about a Paul Newman movie for a future movie club discussion? I vote for THE HUSTLER.

PJ McIlvaine said...

The Verdict.

I am so bummed.

Anthony Peterson said...

I loved "The Sting" -its a you "gotta watch absolutely everything" kinda movie.

Great soundtrack as well.

Racicot said...


Another George Hill and Paul Newman collaboration - I'm sure every Canadian over the age of 30 has seen this film a half dozen times.

Anonymous said...

His last movie, I think, Empire Falls 2005 on HBO was amazing. My friend cried so hard this morning. She was in love with the man.

Diane Stredicke said...

Favorite Paul Newman (he just kept getting better with age)...

Road to Perdition