Saturday, September 27, 2008

Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue

Everybody remembers actors for their best roles, yet I remember Paul Newman not only for his great roles, but for the way that he always transcended his material. There were a lot of movies he did where he was the sole redeeming factor in a sea of dreck and he just rose above it all. You know what I'm talking about if you've ever watched TV back in the 70's, or HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax.

You would sit there and right about twenty-five minutes into this video torture by lazy network or local programmers you would say to yourself, "you know? I think I'm only watching this because of Paul." Do you doubt me? AMC will surely run "The Towering Inferno" often these next couple of week and you will see a raging tower of suck, yet I always watch the thing for five minutes (and only for five minutes) because of Newman and Steve McQueen.

"The Drowning Pool?" A big bowl of meh, but Paul virtually walked on water. Almost everything recently this side of "The Verdict" with the exception of "Road To Perdition" was mediocre at best (I liked "Hudsucker," few do), yet you know he was a consummate professional and a master thespian.

In this day and age, we still have plenty of character actors that are great thespians, but rare now is the lead man that doesn't let his looks or ego hinder his role. Even rarer still is the actor who is dedicated to each and every role that portrays, no matter the caliber of the film or stage.


Beth said...

It's sad, isn't it? And yet it isn't since he lived the hell out of his life. Such a class act.

Beautiful post, Cormac.

Quin Browne said...

he was a class act, as is his wife. i read once years ago, he was colour blind, and had no idea what his eyes looked like.

he made each film better... and when i saw terrance on broadway, playing brick in 'cat on a hot tin roof', i wanted to tell him to go watch paul doing the same role, and try to be just a bit like him,... it would increase his talent.

Cormac Brown said...


He was very much a class act.


Virtually every actor would be served by following his example.

StephenD said...

He was a great actor. I really like "Road To Perdition" and have been wavering on my feelings about "Hudsucker". I saw it a few years ago an loved it, but watched it again recently and lowered my opinion of it.

Have you seen Twilight? I randomly picked it up a year ago and enjoyed it. Newman plays an ex-cop and retired PI. Big cast with Susan Sarandon, Gene Hackman, James Garner, Stockard Channing, etc.

Cormac Brown said...


I don't love "Hudsucker" as much as I used to and you're right, it doesn't wear well with each progressive viewing.

I liked "Twilight" fine when it came out, though I had recheck that IMDB link to remember it. I do remember really good performances, but not the story and I do like most of Benton's stuff.

BeckEye said...

I did love Paul Newman. We tried watching "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" the other night though, and ended up turning it off mid-way through. I doubt anyone would love that movie so much if it weren't Newman and Redford. Nothing happens.

I would like to see "Cool Hand Luke" though. Never had a chance to.

Gifted Typist said...

Great headline for that post Cormac. The first movie review I ever wrote was for The Verdict, in which played a drunk ambulance chasing lawyer. I recall a fantastic performance from old blue eyes.

Cormac Brown said...


There's a Western in there, honest. In between the gratuitous Redford, Newman and BJ Thomas, there is a Western in there...maybe about twenty minutes, but it's there. Ah, just wait for a clip show that has them doing that cliff jump.


That was almost his last great script, it certainly is one of the few courtroom dramas that age well and still stand out.