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Entries in Paul Newman (16)

Monday
Sep082014

Robert Wise Centenary: Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956)

For Robert Wise's centennial, we're looking back on a random selection of his films beyond the familiar mega-hits (The Sound of Music & West Side Story) which we are far more prone to talk about. Here's Nathaniel on the Paul Newman boxing drama...

The poster art for Robert Wise's 1956 biopic on Rocky Graziano reminds us that the more things change the more they stay the same. We're still getting taglines like "A girl can lift a fella to the skies!" (see: Theory of Everything) but Pier Angeli's role as Rocky's wife Norma in the Paul Newman boxing pic is actually fairly minor. She straightens him out primarily by giving him something consistent to hold on to in a life that's been previously totally adrift in noncommittal boxing matches for money and petty crimes. Not that his crimes were always petty, mind you, but we'll get to that in a minute. 

Up until Somebody Up There Likes Me Paul Newman had been doing minor TV roles and successful work on the stage. But his film debut in the biblical epic The Silver Chalice (1954) was an embarrassment. He won poor reviews and later stated...

 The moment I walked into that studio I had a feeling of personal disaster..."

Newman's Breakthrough after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb202014

10 Days Til Oscar. Sigh and Think of Paul Newman. 

Today's magic number is 10. I know you were hoping for a look back ten years to that long awaited 2003 Supporting Actress Smackdown but the lists of reasons that has been delayed multiple times are too boring and painful to share. I promise it's coming! (I'll try for the Saturday morning before the Oscars as a deep breath before the plunge.) Funny but true: I was working on it earlier today and thought "oh, I know. I'll post it on the 10th anniversary of that Oscar ceremony" But guess what date that turns out to be? February 29th. A leap year haha and the date doesn't exist this year. 

Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward in 1958 after the Oscars

I haven't managed to find a fun trivia note involving the number 10 that relates to this year's Oscars so please enjoy this photo of Paul Newman mocking his Oscar losses with a makeshift trophy (note that it says "Noscar" on it) alongside his wife's actual Oscar for Three Faces of Eve (1957). Paul, a perfect 10, was also nominated 10 times over the course of his career (once for Best Picture, 9 times for acting), finally winning the trophy on his 8th nomination which was coincidentally enough, the year after he had won the first of two Honorary acknowledgements (one a Jean Hersholt, the other a traditional Honorary Oscar). Before The Color of Money (1986) he had been locked up in a longstanding three way tie for "most nominated losing actor" with Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton; they all had 7 back then though Burton died a couple of years before Paul Newman finally won gold. Bette Davis is the only other actor with exactly 10 career nominations (unless you count that write-in situation) but we've already started discussing her.

For which of his pre-Oscar roles would you have given Newman the statue? Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963), Cool Hand Luke (1967), Rachel, Rachel (1968), Absence of Malice (1981) or The Verdict (1982)? 

If you need more Paul (and who doesn't) some more photos of Paul at the Oscars are after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Feb142014

Cinema's Greatest On-Screen and Off-Screen Couples

Here's abstew with a Valentine special!

In the dark of the movie theatre is where we fall in love. Romantic films have influenced our lives and how we love since the dawn of cinema. And as we watch–perhaps on a first date–the actors fall in love on the silver screen, we swoon. More often than not, if you believe location rumors, that passion on-screen finds its way into the real-life relationships of the actors involved. In honor of Valentine's Day, let's celebrate those cinematic couples who's love burned bright on and off the big-screen.

Here are five of Hollywood's most iconic lovers...

Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Aug292013

Best Shot: Butch & Sundance & Their Girl

It figures. I try to throw a curveball in our often actress-centric blogging by choosing a guy's guy movie, a buddy Western for Hit Me With Your Best Shot and the most frequent face that pops up in your choices is the momentary it girl of the late 60s Katharine Ross. In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) she plays the school teacher Etta Place, essentially "the girl" of the narrative (and not much more complex a role than that) and twice over, too, since she's shacked up with The Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) but also in 'what if?' love with Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) as evidenced in the Oscar-winning "Raindrops Keep Fallin On My Head" interlude early in the film. Redford & Newman? Lucky girl.

Which leads me to this very scientific poll for TFE readers (as suggested by forever1267 in the comments). Butch and Sundance are a pair in the movie but unlike Katharine Ross you can only have one. Make your choice based on '69 only!  

 


Now that that's out of our systems, let's choose a best shot. And good God (God = Conrad L Hall) there was much to choose from)

Click to read more ...

Monday
Aug262013

Wanted: Yankee Bandits

Are you joining us for this week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot movie? It's the penultimate episode of Season 4 and we're looking at the Best Cinematography winner of 1969, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid which you can Netflix Instant Watch before Wednesday night to join us. Just make your choice for best shot and post it. We'll link up.

Please note: The Bolivian police station needs to fire the sketch artist who made this Wanted poster in the movie - Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid are not played by the Brawny paper towel man and Patrick Swayze. Jeez. It's Robert Redford and Paul Newman and they're worth a lot more than this posters 'recompensa'

Just look at them. 

A million pesos doesn't even begin to cover it. Those faces! Those perfect perfect movie faces.

Friday
May312013

Visual Index ~ Hud's Best Shot(s)

I know it's my own fault since I failed to post on Fantasia last week but I was a bit sad that we had a lower than usual turnout for Hud for this week's "Best Shot" selection (the last of our weekly viewing assignments until the series returns in July for the second half of Season 4). If only so we could all enthuse together about one of the all time great taglines...

the man with the barbed wire soul

...and how it's not false advertising.  

I wish this fine western drama from Martin Ritt had a reputation as humongous as, oh, the one enjoyed by Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? which I reference primarily because it's also a electric quartet-powered black and white masterpiece from the 1960s and just as worthy of obsessing over.

The following shots, chosen by our wee club this week [more...]

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