Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman: Gone, but never forgotten

Has there ever been such a delicious movie star? Even in his later years, Paul Newman star power burned brightly. And, his real legacy can be found on grocery store shelves everywhere, the salad dressing and sauce and organic popcorn that helped bring comfort and joy to kids with cancer, at the camps he helped launch.

Man, the icon could sure play a heel. Brick, Hud, the dad in Empire Falls. The movie I am yearning to watch again is "Once a Great Notion." The scene in which Paul Newman's character's brother dies still haunts me. 

What's your favorite Paul Newman movie?


David Hinske said...

Some actors/actresses have a screen presence and a personality that transcends whatever role they are playing. The camera just loves them regardless of their relative skill of convincing the audience of their submersion into the character being portrayed. A handful come to mind: Spencer Tracey, John Wayne, Katherine Hepburn, Julia Roberts... and Paul Newman.

I never considered him more than an adequate actor, but totally admired him as a person and a personality. A gorgeous human being both physically and as his actions have shown, spiritually in the non-religious sense of that word.

From time to time all of those folks I've mentioned above have indeed had some standout performances. I live near Julia Roberts here in Taos and think her best role is the documentary where she lived with the Mongols for a week. That was compelling, honest and genuine. Never a fan of her on screen work, I must say I think she lives larger than life and is hugely under estimated as an unknown humanitarian. There is a lot of stuff that happens here that happens because she shares her good fortune - insisting on anonymity. But it is a small community and word gets out.

Paul Newman did his humanitarian thing in a more obvious way, but leveraged his celebrity to bring about more good for more people as part of the process. Obviously a great, great guy.

A great actor? To paraphrase a line from one of our great American actors, Bill Clinton, it depends on your definition of acting.

Sorry to post so long. And here's my final payoff answer - Nobody's Fool. The role is precisely heroic/non-heroic and his performance was exceptionally perfect for that moment of his face and age and life.

We lost a good one. We shouldn't be fooled by trash can, flash in the pan pretenders. Paul Newman was a sterling example of how to transcend the falseness of the movie business - maybe the falseness of any life lived by other's rules. A lesson for all of us.

Whining and Dining said...

Well said, Dave!

I've been so lucky in my career to be in the presence of greatness occasionally, but my favorite interview ever was with Mr. B.B. King... in his tour bus before he played in his club on Beale St.

He was so gracious, so eloquent, not exactly humble, but no airs. Maybe it's the grace that comes with age.

David Hinske said...

So far age has not lent me any grace. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you are right.

Speaking of which, did you notice that for a guitar player what large hands BB has?