Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Last of the Light in Those Blue Eyes

Paul Newman has a unique place in the history of American film. He bridged the leading-man archetype between the classic stars of the thirties and forties-—Tracy, Gable, Powell, Flynn-—and the antiheroes of the seventies-—Pacino, DeNiro, Hoffman-—having traits of both in spades.

Drop-dead handsome in the suits of the fifties and sixties, he brought real heat to the screen out of those clothes, in torn T-shirts or bare-chested. He embodied “every man wants to be him, every woman wants to be with him.”

A magnetic screen presence, he was sophistication imbued with an appealing irony, skepticism, and detachment. In my mind he represents America when we felt good about ourselves: tough, sometimes the underdog, gets back up when knocked down, takes time to enjoy a bicycle ride, defends honor, able to see and play the angles.

It feels like a terrible omen to lose this national treasure at the end of this unsettled week.


Scott Pack said...

I have never seen a Paul Newman film. Honestly. I did go to see The Colour of Money in the cinema and was so bored I walked out.

I probably to attend to this gap in my cultural knowledge pretty sharpish.

M.A.Peel said...

Hi Scott. Butch Cassiday and the Sundance Kid is a good place to start. Followed by Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and The Sting.