Paul Newman Birthday Appreciation Post

On the occasion of Paul Newman‘s 91st birthday, I would like to run down what is part of my essential Newman viewing (A Newman Dozen [12 plus 1]).

Some picks may be obvious, others I like because, heck I like them. Where applicable I will offer up some explanation where there may need to be one.

Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956) – Early evidence of the star power to come.

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Until They Sail (1957) – sometimes I am in the mood for a sentimental tearjerker and I go to this one

Annex - Newman, Paul (Until They Sail)_NRFPT_03

The Long, Hot Summer (1958) – You can feel the heat, the pulsating searing chemistry between Newman and Woodward. Although I prefer the next title when it comes to my Southern dramas, I will still sit back and watch this one.

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Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) – Ah Brick and Maggie the Cat. Might be a slightly water down version of the source material, but I am still down with it. Favorite scene? When Brick and Big Daddy are in the basement reminiscing.

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The Hustler (1961) -Fast Eddie got his Oscar 25 years later; but this is where it started.

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Paris Blues (1961) – I like the music.

PBLUES

 

Hud (1963) – I am starting to sense a pattern in terms of the roles Mr. Newman plays …

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A New Kind of Love (1963) – I don’t know I just like this film because it is a bit of a romp. And it looked like husband and wife were having fun while making it.

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Torn Curtain (1966) -A minor Hitchcock film but still a good film in general. My lasting impressing is recounting Hitch talking about a pivotal scene where he wanted to convey to the audience just how difficult it is to kill a human hand-on-hand.

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Cool Hand Luke (1967) – No failure to communicate how awesome this film is!

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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) – As my dad said when I gave him the VHS during the Christmas of 1994, “Two fools.” And lovable fools they are…

Actors Paul Newman (R) and Robert Redford are shown in a scene from their 1969 film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" in this undated publicity photograph. Legendary film star Newman, whose brilliant blue eyes, good looks and talent made him one of Hollywood's top actors over six decades, has died, a spokesman said on September 27, 2008. He was 83 and had been battling cancer. REUTERS/Courtesy 20th Century Fox/Handout (UNITED STATES). NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. Original Filename: 2008-09-27T141316Z_01_SIN43_RTRMDNP_3_NEWMAN.JPG

 

The Sting (1973) – Redford and Newman and Hill reunited and it feels so good!

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The Verdict (1982) – When I was a kid I just remember thinking this is a “serious, adult” film. Surely is but then I had to watch it in religion class in high school (yup, religion class) as an example of a morality play.

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How’s about y’all out there in the interwebs … what are some of your favorite Newman films?

Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: Twilight (1998)

Alright before you start wigging out or anything, check out the date for the film. This is NOT the teen-vamp saga. Never seen it, likely never will.

Twilight Robert Benton Paul Newman Susan Sarandon Gene Hackman

Anyway, this Twilight came out in 1998 and stars Paul Newman, Gene Hackman, Susan Sarandon and (a young) Reese Witherspoon. It is directed and co-written by Robert Benton (Kramer vs. Kramer, Places in the Heart, The Human Stain).

When I first saw Twilight I almost did not care what the plot was. As I sussed out, Harry Ross (Newman) is on the search for young Mel Ames (Witherspoon), scion of Hollywood parents Jack (Hackman) and Catherine (Sarandon). But this is only the beginning. Years pass and Ross, who boards on the Ames Estate, is asked to do another solid for the family. This is where the “fun” begins as the viewer is taken on a ride with plenty of twists and turns, including the reawakening of a 20-year old case involving the disappearance of Catherine’s first husband. (Plot Synopsis Source: Wikipedia)

 

I will relent and say that it does plod along at times during the film and the strength is in the performance of acting majesty. It has been years since I have seen this, but I am always fascinated and intrigued by contemporary efforts to capture the atmosphere and spirit of those noir films of the 1940s and 1950s.

Also, it is quite possible I have a thing for Paul Newman. Only just so. Seriously, I think if he had released a film in which he was reading the phone directory or staring at a wall watching paint dry, I’d be there.

But there is a sentimental reason why I love him so. As mentioned in this space before, he was an actor that my late father and me had a shared affinity for. So whenever I think of Paul Newman, a part of me is reminded of my beloved father.

Cannes 2013 Poster: Another Lovely!

SIGNATURE 10cm 2013.indd

The marketing folks at the Cannes Film Festival are really trying to make me go broke. Last year, it was the lovely Marilyn Monroe poster (which I promptly purchased). For the 66th annual event, we have another part of Hollywood Royalty – this time in the form of my favorite cinematic lovebirds, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Check out the poster below:

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The Cannes Film Festival will take place from 15th-26th of May.

Hit the comments to let me know what you think about the poster (What’s not to LOVE ?)

Revisiting The Sting (*)

The release of 1973’s The Sting reunites Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid‘s director (George Roy Hill) and the lead actors (Paul Newman and Robert Redford). It was a different decade in a different locale (Midwest versus the Southwest and Bolivia) but the result is the same – absolutely sublime entertainment.

Set in Depression-era Illinois (Joliet and Chicago), the action starts with Johnny Hooker (Redford) and his partners in crime Luther Coleman (Robert Earl Jones, James’ dad) and Joe Erie unwittingly and inadvertently running a scam on gangster Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), bilking him out of a large sum of money. Lonnegan’s henchmen track the grifters down and Luther is murdered. Upon finding out his friend’s fate, Hooker books it to Chicago in search for Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman), who Luther had earlier recommended Hooker seek out if he wanted to learn from the best in the long con.

Hooker vows to avenge Luther’s death; he tracks down and enlists the help Gondorff, who is a little down on his luck when Redford’s character first meets him. After some urging, Gondorff decides to take him up on his offer and under his wing; the wheels are now set in motion for setting up the large-scale con known as ‘the wire’.

He assembles a group of various con men to stage the elaborate trap for Lonnegan. Add to the mix, coppers and federal agents who are hot on the trail of our ‘heroes,’ and what you have is a wonderfully paced caper that entertains and amuses, with various twists and turns at every corner.

As much as the film is memorable for the acting and camaraderie between the lead actors, it is the music, notably for the use of the Scott Joplin ragtime composition, “The Entertainer,” that always sticks with me.

Check out the trailer:

At the time of the film’s release, The Sting was universally well received, receiving 10 Oscar™ nods and winning 7, including awards for Best Picture and Best Director for 1973. Over thirty years later it entered the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.

(*) In celebration of Universal Studios’ centennial, I am taking a look back into their catalog to select and discuss a few of my favorite films. The Sting is the first of this series.

 

How Could I Forget

I was reminded of another great Sidney Lumet film – again this is a film I saw in my religious studies course in high school (I think it was Freshman year).At the time I found it a little slow and plodding but upon reflection, it was a very good well-played courtroom drama.

Top Bromances of all Time

This is taken directly from WENN news (via the Internet Movie Database):

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Butch and Sundance … greatest bromance of all

Butch & Sundance Top Bromance Poll

Paul Newman and Robert Redford have topped a new Internet poll listing the top 10 Movie Bromances of all time.

The pair’s Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid roles beat Lethal Weapon’s Murtaugh and Riggs, portrayed by Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, on RoddysRockinReviews.com’s online countdown.

Naming Newman and Redford’s portrayals number one, the website claims Butch and Sundance are the “Bromance of Bromances,” adding, “When things in their wild world goes awry the two have so much devotion to each other that they face their imminent doom together without even blinking.”

Point Break’s Bodhi and Johnny Utah, played by Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves, Star Trek’s Spock and Captain Kirk and Top Gun’s Maverick (Tom Cruise) and Iceman (Val Kilmer) also make the new top 10.

Personally, I could not agree more!  Butch and Sundance is one of my favorites all-time.

What do you think?  Did the public get it right?  What other bromances did the pollsters miss?

A Mighty Fine Fella – An Appreciation of Paul Newman


Of course I did not know Paul Newman personally but his presence on and off screen made you feel like you had a personal connection to him. When I was on my train Saturday morning and my dad called me to tell me the news, my heart sank. I felt like someone a friend was gone from my life. Additionally as a dear friend of mine said when I informed her of the tragic news – he was someone for us who represented someone that we thought we would never see pass – despite our 50 plus year age difference. He was a timeless, one-of-a-kind individual whose work and life are an example for all who succeed him.

In being an “everyman”, an “ordinary” man if you will, he was extraordinary. There was the unprecedented charity work that made giving to those in need really, really cool. Butch Cassidy/Cool Hand Luke for goodness sake! The almost mythic for Hollywood 50 year marriage to Joanne Woodward is stuff o’ legend – you CAN make it.

His screen persona (as already noted in several places) was striking, disarming and oh so appealing; “The Long Hot Summer” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” immediately spring to mind.  The defiant, affable rogue/rascal of “Cool Hand Luke,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “The Sting” captured audiences.  Granted I speak as a 30-something person who was not even born when the aforementioned films were out in theatres.

One film that I WAS release in my lifetime is one I watched when I was in high for religion class; “The Verdict” showed a real pathos and journey of discovery in my opinion – the troubled man who finds himself crusading in a sense to do the right thing.
It is a credit and privilege that we were able to see this progression of man throughout his career in several stage through the roles he portrayed over the course of over 50 years.

In closing, I refer to a song sung by another man known for his dazzling blue eyes; I feel like this captures the essence of a life that is lived to its fullest:

And now, the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I’ll say it clear,
Ill state my case, of which I’m certain.

I’ve lived a life that’s full.
I’ve traveled each and evry highway;
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Regrets, I’ve had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall;
And did it my way.

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried.
I’ve had my fill; my share of losing.
And now, as tears subside,
I find it all so amusing.

To think I did all that;
And may I say – not in a shy way,
No, oh no not me,
I did it my way.

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows –
And did it my way!

Farewell and rest in peace, my friend.