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Entries in Patricia Neal (6)

Tuesday
Jul022019

Showbiz History: Swimming Pool, The Secret of Nimh, and Margot Robbie

8 random things to celebrate from this day (July 2nd) in showbiz history 

<--- 1953 Children's book author Roald Dahl (James and the Giant Peach, The Witches, etcetera) and future Best Actress Oscar winner Patricia Neal (Hud) are married in New York.

1971 The original Shaft, an influential film in the blaxploitation movement and one of its biggest hits, opens in movie theaters. The next Spring "Theme from Shaft" takes the Oscar for Best Original Song. 

1980 Airplane!, a spoof of the then fading "disaster" genre, premieres. It becomes a smash hit and the fourth biggest grosser of 1980...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Sep182015

The Alluring Patricia Neal in Hud

Continuing our celebration of 1963 here's Murtada on that year's Best Actress.

Patricia Neal is first introduced 8 minutes into Hud. She walks into the center of the frame and takes hold of it as she gazes at Paul Newman parking his car.

He parked right on my flower bed”.

The way she is framed ensures the audience knows she’s important to the story. The way Neal tosses off that line, we know Alma’s not to be messed with. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Feb022015

Beauty vs Beast: Winter Is (Still) Coming

Jason from MNPP here with another round of "Beauty vs Beast" -- this week we're headed to Gobbler's Knob (I still can't believe that's a real name of a real place) in the little town called Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, about an hour and a half outside of Pittsburgh, where the fate of our Winter lay in the balance. Well laid in the balance, that is - it's already been reported this morning that the world's furriest prognisicator this side of Sam Champion, the eternal Punxsutawney Phil, has seen his shadow and laid six more weeks of Winter upon us. Boo, Phil. Seeing as how I awoke to several fresh inches of slush this morning, I'm not terribly surprised by the forecast, but still. Boo, Phil.

Which brings me to what is maybe the greatest comedy ever made about the maybe dumbest holiday on the calendar: Harold Ramis' also-eternal 1993 Bill Murray comedy Groundhog Day, and this week's Battle of the Phils!

 

You've got one week - or one-sixth of the Winter that oh-so-wise woodchuck just dropped on us - to vote, so don't forget your booties it's cold outside and get to work.

PREVIOUSLY Two weeks back in the comments of the Blue Velvet contest TFE-reader Murtada pointed out that no actor had ever beaten an actress in any of these polls; well it's finally happened! It was close, but Paul Newman's Hud managed to shimmy his slim-hips to a six-percent win over Patricia Neal's Alma. Yeah he was a bastard, but... well, he was Paul Newman as a bastard, so it goes. Said San FranCinema:

"Newman, a great beauty no one took seriously until he surprised them all by becoming a great actor, always gets my vote."

Monday
Jan262015

Beauty vs Beast: Legend In Blue Jeans

Jason from MNPP here, eyeing the white-out weather outside the window of my office as I write this to you from New York City - everybody stay safe on the East Coast over the next couple of days! It's apparantly gonna be a biggun, this storm. I know, here, I'll give you something to keep you warm - Paul Newman!

It's the 90th anniversary of Paul Newman's birth today. A few years back I'd have wagered he'd still be around to celebrate this one with us - he retained his youthful glimmer right up til the end - but it wasn't to be. His death was one that hit me hard -- he was "The Legend" of my youth, still going strong, still beautiful and affecting. But hey his lifetime love the great Joanne Woodward is still around, so let's all send our happy movie memory vibes her way. And so today's "Beauty vs Beast" is for Paul, and my favorite performance of his...

 

 

Paul Newman is totally a beast in this movie - drunken, boorish, and an attempted rapist to boot - but all that said it's still a major struggle slapping him with anything but "Beauty. Beauty. BEAUTY." Ya know? Ya know. (See the episode of TFE's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series devoted to this movie right here.)

PREVIOUSLY Last week we got lost in the picket-fence nightmare of David Lynch's Blue Velvet, pitting Dennis Hopper's PBR lover against Isabella Rossellini's dewy-lipped songstress - well turns out y'all love the sultry way Dorothy suffers, as she sauntered away with 70% of the vote. Said Mike in Canada:

"Team Dorothy all the way. I'm always looking for her in my closet."

Sunday
Apr132014

1963 Oscar Flashback: Sidney, Cleopatra, Hud

Something is wrong with me. I miss the Oscars already even though I've just barely recovered from the March 2nd related exhaustion. (Nathaniel the Masochist) So the other day I got a little Oscar happy and was looking back at various years, so let's talk the 36th Academy Awards briefly. You in?

They were held exactly 50 years ago today. Tom Jones, just discussed by Andrew, won 1963's Best Picture and three other trophies but the evening is best remembered today for Sidney Poitier's historic win for Lilies of the Field.

Sidney was the first black actor to win in either leading category but it was 38 years before it happened again (with Halle & Denzel on the same night). Now of course it's a fairly regular occurrence in both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress... the other two categories not so much. 

Lots more photos and trivia after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May302013

Cold Eyes and Weary Bodies in "Hud"

For this week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot we're celebrating Hud on it's 50th anniversary

Though I readily concede that its my own prejudices as a Yank and a cityboy that get in the way, I rarely associate nuanced feeling with the western genre or artful dialogue with a Texas twang. So Hud (1963) plays like a miracle to me, a major one. This adaptation of Larry McMurty's novel (he would later write screenplays including Brokeback Mountain, which plays like a distant cousin to this 1960s masterpiece) never feels anything less than authentic in its Southwestern reality and yet its pure poetry. Consider this callous but perfectly sculpted line of dialogue from Hud (Paul Newman in arguably his finest hour) to his nephew Lon (Brandon deWilde) who is worrying about Homer's (Melvyn Douglas), the paterfamilia's, waning health. 

Happens to everybody - horses, dogs, men; nobody gets out of life alive

But I'm not really here to talk about the rough beauty of the dialogue in Hud -- though it's never far from my mind -- but the language of the eyes and the body delivering it. And, I rush to add, the award-winning cinematography and composition which package the unimproveable ensemble up so potently. Look at the shadows and the way Newman, bathed in light, become a handsome devil (essentially the truth of his character) his famous blue eyes less like inviting pools of water than icy death. 

But we'll return to close ups shortly. Much of Hud is shot in medium and long shot and everywhere you look, limbs are dangling and swaying and whole bodies are sneaking brief moments of rest, perched on porches, settling into chairs, or suggestively refusing to leave their beds. Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Neal, as the family's housekeeper Alma, both won deserved Oscars for their inspired work, and they beautifully capture not just the details of their characters but the physicality of people who've worked their bodies every day of their lives whether cattle rustling or scrubbing dishes. The younger characters Lon and Hud, are less exhausted, though there's still a kind of future arthritic effort to their jerky performative posing. 

runner up for best shot. Hud is a big deal

Lonnie: I'll go with you Hud.
Hud: What big deal you got lined up, sport -  a snowcone or something?"

Take one of the best scenes in Hud on the porch of the family house while the characters eat peach ice cream and enter and exit the frame without the camera following them (though Hud is quite cinematic, this particular scene is blocked like a play). Lon and his granddad have a fascinatingly evasive exchange about Hud's dead brother (Lon's dad) and why Homer dislikes his only living son "He knows. You don't need to." Douglas delivers each line with evasive though never rude gruffness, his cards held tight to his chest. When Hud enters the scene and announces a run into town, Lon shifts his attention to the uncle he idolizes but doesn't understand. There's this exquisitely telling funny shot of him mirroring Hud's pose -- while Hud mocks him but invites him to tag along anyway. How brilliant that it takes a second to even figure whose shadow is thrown onto the wall.

The withholding father and his ungrateful child finally  have it out in the film's centerpiece, a truly seismic emotional clash (the first hour being foreshadowing tremor and the second cruel aftershock) which Hud believes is entirely about his dead brother - the son Homer adored - which Homer denies. The righteous father tears into Hud as a man without principle, without empathy for his fellow man, without care for the world around him. Hud listens with silent hostility (he knows it's true) in one of the most gloriously lit and perfectly acted close-ups in all of cinema - my choice for best shot - as water from the well drips down his angry face. That's the closest he'll ever get to human tears in the film though Hud may have once shed them for the mutual loss that ripped them apart 15 years earlier. His cool eyes shift with a cruel smile as the room falls silent until he finds an unexpected nonsequitor to hurt both of them, and shoves the dagger in.

his mamma loved him but she died

My mamma loved me but she died."

This scene never fails to tear me up inside and deeply impress me for myriad reasons but precisely for the writing, the lighting, blocking and precise direction by Martin Ritt (Norma Rae, Cross Creek, Sounder) and the peak moment of Newman's indelible cold, cruel star turn.

Frank Langella the actor recently dissed Paul Newman's acting reputation in his memoir "Dropped Names: Famous Men & Women as I Knew Them" saying that while he was a great movie star he was not a great actor. His reasoning was that Newman lacked the one thing that Langella figures all great actors have - danger.  I can only surmise that Langella never saw Hud. For Paul Newman was both a great movie star and a great actor and Hud is the proof of it. Even if his career had ended there he'd still be legendary. There's enough danger in his hostile beauty in Hud to scar everyone in his orbit. 

Hud: I don't usually get rough on my women. Generally don't have to. 
Alma: You're rough on everyone. 

Other "Best Shot" Must-Reads on Hud For its 50th Anniversary