Precious Bodily Fluids

Paul Newman

From the first time that I saw it (around the age of 9) until I-don’t-know-when (college sometime), if anyone asked me about my favorite movie, I answered confidantly and resoundingly, “The Sting!” The nose-tap became a gesture as common and natural as a head nod. In high school, I had few academic honors (very few), but my speech on The Sting was selected for the “Speech Meet,” at which I proudly orated praises of this film about two studly con men in front of the whole school. It bothered me not-at-all that these guys were basically “bad guys.” Loyalty mattered more than anything else, as they took the master gangster himself for all that he had. When Paul Newman, after feigning drunkenness for a couple hours, lays down four jacks to Robert Shaw’s four nines, proving himself the better cheater, the smirk on Newman’s face is just about as good as cinema ever gets. Newman, it turns out, was a truly good man, not only a loyal one. Nearly fifteen years ago at an IndyCar race at Laguna Seca, CA, I got to walk up to him, though I wasn’t able to obtain an autograph or a handshake. It struck me then how old and frail this guy was, but he hung on quite a bit longer. Now he’s gone, and it’s one of those rare occasions that one has to acknowledge and praise an actor who made cinema better than it would have been without him.

This entry was published on September 27, 2008 at 9:49 am. It’s filed under Obits and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

6 thoughts on “Paul Newman

  1. For me, Newman as Luke in Stuart Rosenberg’s Cool Hand Luke (1967), is etched in my memory: the gentle yet defiant outsider who had to be destroyed.

    I re-watched the movie last year not long after my mother’s death, and the scene with the prodigal Luke, his resentful brother, and his dying mother in the back of the pick-up truck, is gut-wrenching. She knows he is doomed, and her pain is manifested in every word and gesture.

  2. Yeah, I watched that film for the first time last year and was amazed at just how gut-wrenching it was. It’s often thrown around as a sort of Paul Newman vehicle, but there’s quite a bit more to it than that. Kind of like Streetcar Named Desire with Brando.

    Another memory popped to mind: in 8th grade algebra class, my teacher so wanted to have an excuse to watch Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid that he had us make ratios of the number of bank robberies versus train robberies. Classic.

  3. The Sting is, of course, amazing – and I will forever associate it with the basement of your old house and many bottles of tonic water.

    But A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof has been my favorite movie for as far back as I can remember, and it’s only made more spectacular by Paul Newman.

  4. In the same way, I will always associate Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with you, who first got me to watch it. I think I had to watch it again without you, as your swooning over Mr. Newman drowned out most of the dialog. But then, you can’t watch Gilda with me or Ian for the same reason.

  5. We mustn’t forget “The Towering Inferno”. Never has Hollywood disaster shash been so good.

  6. Paul Newman is a legend for his work in movies, and he’s a stud for all his work outside of movies

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: