Monday, September 29, 2008

Cool Hand Luke is gone

Cool Hand Luke is the quintessential Paul Newman movie for me. It brought together all those qualities that he portrayed in his best characters - strong but damaged, sly but true, the blazing smile that floats up out of a deep well of sadness. And always cool, always cool. Newman had one of those attributes you cannot teach in acting class - charisma - and he had a trainload of it.

A list of his best reads like somebody's top 20 films. My faves after Cool Hand Luke would be The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Sometimes a Great Notion, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, The Hustler, Hombre, and Slap Shot, which was a gross comedy but Newman brought dignity to it. And you can't hardly find a real stinker in his filmography. He had a real sense of what he did and didn't want to do with his acting, and with his life. In his era you made your bones on the stage, New York was the only destination for the legit actor, and he was the first to play some characters that are now staples on the American stage.

And on top of being somebody you'd think must be a really nice guy, he apparently was a really nice guy. His Newman's Own line has generated $220 million for charity so far. That's in the "above and beyond the call of duty" category.

I never met a person who said they did not like Paul Newman. They don't make many men like him and I am sad to see the end of his era.

1 comment:

DodgerScott said...

End of an era? Oh please. I can still buy the balsamic vinegar salad dressing, right? Don't tell me just because some old actor only you can remember died they will stop making his salad dressing. Whew!