Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Paul Newman's Way

When I was a kid and Vickie, my doyenne sister, was babysitting, we sneaked out to see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) at a big movie house in St. Paul, Minnesota. We loved it -- so much so that we sat through the entire picture show twice. It was the only time in my life that I've done that. Paul Newman and Robert Redford -- what a duo!

Newman was great. Not only as an actor (often playing a Marlon Brando-like wild man or rebel), but as his own person in life, as a helper of others (through Newman's Own salad dressings, etc.), as a supporter of free speech (he helped The Nation out in hard times). As a resident of Connecticut, he also wisely (and man did he know what he was talking about) worked against Joe Lieberman in the election of 2006, and for the Democratic Party. He was also a racer, benefactor of Kenyon College and all around cool dude.

I've seen about half of Paul Newman's films and he's memorable in all of them. A lesser known one worth mentioning is Martin Ritt's Paris Blues (1961), in black and white. In it, he plays a jazz musician and stars alongside Sidney Poitier, in Paris. It's not one of the best of Newman's (or Poitier's) films -- kind of muddled, overall -- but for any jazz or Beat fan, it's well-worth seeing for its atmospherics and performances alone. Add Diahann Carroll, Joanne Woodward, Guy Pederson, Louis Armstrong, a soundtrack by Duke Ellington, and alluringly gritty scenes of Paris, and it's pretty cool regardless of its shortcomings.

I could list about five or ten favorite Newman films, but enough for now. Paul Newman, RIP.

Today's Rune: Wealth.


the walking man said...

It is a good thing that there are examples like Newman to leave a trail behind them. Not perfect by most standards in their life but certainly better than most of their detractors.

Joseph Lieberman is a republican old boy pimp.

Anonymous said...

I never thought Newman was so hot. I guess that's why I was so good as the backer of Fast Eddie's nemesis, Minnesotta Fats, in "The Hustler."--George C. Scott

Charles Gramlich said...

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid is definitely my favorite Newman film

Beth said...

Butch Cassidy is probably my favorite, too. My still-BFF Holly and I walked out smitten — me with Redford, her with Newman. I've seen that movie I don't know how many times.

He really lived a life, didn't he?

Lana Gramlich said...

Newman was just an all around great guy, I'm sure. He's already missed. <:(

Johnny Yen said...

I saw Paris Blues right after my motorcycle accident in 1988. I was loaded up with painkillers, but remember most of it. I remember thinking what a big deal it was to see thing like Paul Newman's character hitting on Diahann Carroll's character in 1961, the year I was born (and you too, if I recall).

Newman was one of the greats. He'll be missed.

BTW, if you recall the scene in The Color of Money where he plays pool against Iggy Pop, that was filmed in the back bar of the Gingerman, one of my old haunts; I met my second wife there.