A look at the Newman we knew
Sometimes it takes a loss to make you look. When Paul Newman, Hollywood’s ultimate leading man died this week, I realized for the first time that he was one of my favorite actors. I would guess that it was the constant quality of his work that kept him from rising to the forefront of my mind.
In taking some recommendations on movies of his I had not yet seen, I learned that Newman is a great entry point for old movies. His 1958 classics “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “The Long Hot Summer” are not only compelling romantic dramas, they are also a history lesson ” at the very least in woman’s fashion and at most in cultural attitudes of the time.
They also show how, even as a young man across from Elizabeth Taylor, he never let his good looks get in the way of his acting.
Newman’s range as an actor from the comedic to the romantic to the dramatic can be seen in the different types of movies he’s made (all the way through 2006 with the kids animated car racing film “Cars”), but also in each individual film performance.
” Leslie Brefeld
Following are six films to remember Paul Newman by, from Spout.com, an “online destination for film discussions and recommendations.”
– “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” 1969
Arguably the film Newman is the most famous for, this was the first pairing of Redford and Newman. Originally it was to be Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, and then a handful of other stars, including Jack Lemmon, until Redford finally got the part. However, Newman was originally supposed to play Sundance, and Redford to play Butch. What a different movie that would have been. A great follow-up to this pairing is “The Sting.”
– “The Hustler” 1961
The Hustler stands to this day as a cinematic masterpiece, and Newman’s performance in it stands among his very best. Singer/actor Bobby Darrin was supposed to star in this film, but Newman made the role his own and made “Fast Eddie” Felton into a film legend. The far inferior 1986 sequel “The Color of Money” with Tom Cruise doesn’t hold a candle to the original, but Newman won his Best Actor Oscar for his reprisal of the Felton role, but most critics agree this was a nod to his role in “The Hustler.”
– “Hud” 1963
This movie is an adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s early novella “Horseman, Pass By,” and saw Newman nominated for Best Actor in his portrayal of the “man with the barbed-wire soul.” It actually won for Best Supporting Actor, Actress, and Cinematography, but it is Newman’s selfishly hard-hearted modern day cowboy that holds this movie together and makes it worth watching more than once.
– “Cool Hand Luke” 1967
Newman’s portrayal of a prisoner who just won’t submit to the system and the will of the warden will be remembered forever, and it’ll come to mind every time you eat a hard-boiled egg. It’s famous for the line “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate,” and some of the best scenes ever of Newman grinning from ear to ear. If you’re a nonconformist, like Newman often was in his acting choice, you’ll love this movie.
– “The Hudsucker Proxy” 1994
This is a dark horse among the Coen Brothers films, but it’s my favorite of theirs right after Miller’s Crossing. Newman’s portrayal of a cigar-chomping business executive who growls out all of his lines is classic, although this film only grossed $3 million dollars at the box office, and was the Coens biggest flop. Still, it is well worth watching, if just for Newman. He literally chews up the scenery.
– “Road to Perdition” 2002
This was Paul Newman’s final feature film, although he did go on to star in HBO’s “Empire Falls” and to lend his voice to the Disney/Pixar hit “Cars.” Newman plays Irish mob boss John Rooney to Tom Hanks’ Michael Sullivan, and reportedly had author Frank McCourt send him tapes of himself speaking so he could get the voice right. It’s a tragic role for Newman, and a fitting swan song to his entire career. They definitely don’t make ’em like him anymore.
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