Paul Newman (1925-2008)

On the day that I wrote this blog entry, it was the anniversary of the day Newman passed away. I wanted to pay homage to an actor that is one of the best and a person that used his fame to give to others with projects like Newman’s Own where all profit after taxes go to charities and the Hole in the wall gang camp for sick children. I discovered Newman through my father who told me to see a film called Cool Hand Luke and from then on I started to rent his movies. I have not seen them all but I would love to. Paul Newman has made so many good films and I’m sure there are some great ones I am yet to see. Because of that, I will focus on those films I have seen. 

As an actor, there are few with the talent and image that Newman had. He could play different roles and play them great. For me his greatest film is Cool Hand Luke, why he did not win the Oscar for that film I don’t know. The whole film is carried by his performance, he is defiant and moving. The scene where he plays the banjo and sings for his mother is the one my favorite scenes by an actor, is so simple but moving and all that is due to Newman’s performance. 

He did two film with Robert Redford, The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Butch and Sundance is a classic western about this two bandits who are suddenly being chase by this force and they run away. Both actors are great in the film and it is truly a classic film. But in The Sting both Newman and Redford are at their best and the movie is a excellent film with a great ending. 

In Cat on a hot tin roof, Newman plays a character that is bitter and resentful, brilliantly portrayed and acted. For me the film itself was alright but the main attraction for me were the performances of Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman. Based on a Tennessee Williams play the movie was well received by critics even when Williams did not like that they took elements of the play out of the film. 

 Another great performance from Newman came in the film The Verdict where he plays an alcoholic lawyer who takes a malpractice case. Newman plays this part to perfection in a film that is interesting and with a great story.  I think once again the Academy failed to award him, in fact, he won finally for the Color of Money where he reprised his role in the Hustler. The movie directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Tom Cruise. Now I think he deserved one long ago for other performances, but he was as usual great on this film.

Another favorite of mine is Nobody’s Fool where he plays Sully. In thanksgiving weekend he runs in with the son he abandoned and meets his grandchildren and starts to reconnect with his family. While he takes care of those around him. Newman was so good in this film, it really remains one of my favorites. 

Among his final roles was his great performance in Road to Perdition playing a head of mob family. A man who was torn while protecting his son and having to kill a man he loved as a son. He has few scenes but he is great in each one of them. 

Newman’s body of work is so immense that I can’t go into every film. But today, I just wanted to remember a great actor and a great humanist who used his life to help others.   

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