Posted tagged ‘Paul Newman’

Paul Newman in the 1960’s

February 16, 2011

While not having the acting ability of Marlon Brando or the stage mannerisms of Laurence Olivier, Paul Newman was a Hollywood giant nonetheless. Charismatic is how to describe his towering screen persona. Sadly, he died in 2008.
He had a successful business life away from film sets and donated generously to good causes. But it’s the films me and millions others will remember him for and the 1960’s were his Golden age. Bear with me as I look back on some dazzling highlights of a great movie career.

The Hustler (1961)

Newman gives a gritty performance as a small-time pool player reaching for the top. His self-destructive ways lifts this film way above other sports based vehicles of the era. The sequel, The Color of Money, made twenty-five years later is lesser- one ball short in the Rack.
As a perennial loser at creative writing contests, Battleships games and Draughts, I have adopted “Fast” Eddie Felson’s maxim- “I’m the best you ever seen, Fats. I’m the best there is. And even if you beat me, I’m still the best.”

Sweet Bird of Youth (1962)

A Southern soap opera based on the play by Tennessee Williams. Hollywood cashed in on Newman’s good looks as a gold-digging gigolo. As Mozart was wont to play too many notes, Williams was noted for writing lots of words, however, fine acting by the ensemble makes this a rich, rewarding melodrama to watch.

Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Allegedly, there are numerous illusions to the life of Jesus in this tale of a prison chain-gang; believe it if you will. After a shaky start Luke starts to win over the rest of his inmates and they follow his lead. A terrific film that as the critics would tell you -it will leave you thinking. Memorable scenes abound, none more so than the famous egg-eating competition.

This was re-enacted tenuously in a challenge I received by a fat man in the pub many years ago. He said he could eat more Kit Kats than me. Now he was big but I was the chocoholic and I left him folded in a heap like a crumpled wrapper.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Quite possibly my joint favourite film of all-time. I’ve watched this a dozen times and can quote vast tracts of the script. A lot of people memorise monologues and dialogues from Shakespeare which is a waste of memory space in my book. Give me “I swear if Sweetface told me that I rode out of town ten minutes ago, I’d believe him” any day. Newman as Butch exudes charm and humour throughout the film and is ably assisted by his partner in crime, Robert Redford. Despite the subject matter, on every level this picture is tremendous, script, photography, music, the works.