What can I say about Paul Newman? He has been a great favourite of mine since I first saw him in The Sting. He was such a natural and gifted actor. He was fascinating to watch as he was a very physical actor and his eyes always spoke volumes too.
Paul was also a very handsome man which meant that it was certainly not a chore to gaze at him on screen for hours on end. 🙂 Off screen he was down to earth, classy and an all round real nice guy. He did a great deal for charity too.
I have never heard any stories of him treating people badly or going around acting like he was better than others. Paul Newman seemed to be the genuine article, what you saw with him was what you got. I respect that enormously. His marriage to Joanne Woodward is one for the history books, they were so close and remained devoted to the end.
Paul made so many films in his career, some excellent, some good, and some not so good, but he always delivered even if he was in a terrible film. He was someone whose work I would always check out. I miss him so much.
The following five films are the ones I consider to feature Paul’s best performances.
1- Hud. Paul is excellent as the cynical, ambitious, and embittered son of a rancher. Hud is idolised by his young nephew and despaired of by his father. Hud is one of those men who destroys everything he touches (not intentionally but it just happens). A strong lead performance from Paul makes this one a must see. Patricia Neal is also excellent here as the object of Hud’s desire.
2- The Verdict. This gripping courtroom drama features one of Paul’s best performances. He is deeply moving as Frank, an alcoholic lawyer taking on a medical malpractice case. He fights hard on the case and regains some self esteem along the way. He has his heart broken when he opens it to a much younger woman who is not all she seems. I think Paul is so vulnerable in this, he also really lets you see this character warts and all.
3- The Hustler. You can’t take your eyes off Paul here, as the young hot shot pool player “Fast Eddie” Felson. He makes you feel this guys hunger to win, his pain at a personal loss later in the film and his incapability to quit trying to win and beat other pool players. Piper Laurie, George C. Scott and Jackie Gleason all offer excellent support.
4- The Sting. Paul has a lot of fun here as the clever and funny con-man, Henry Gondorff. He teaches a younger man (Robert Redford)the art of the con. The two become good friends and go up against a ruthless crime boss (Robert Shaw). Paul steals every scene he is in here with just a look. His character has always got something waiting up his sleeve, and Paul does a good job of capturing his changing moods and mannerisms as he goes around fooling gangsters.
5- Road To Perdition. Paul dominates the screen in every single scene he is in, as a mob boss facing a moral conundrum. He must kill his surrogate son who is a good guy. This is necessary due to the actions of his own son who is despicable. The scene where he confronts his own son and gives him a piece of his mind is powerful stuff indeed. His final scene in the rain is unforgettable.
My favourite Paul Newman films are the following: The Sting. Winning. Message In A Bottle. Absence Of Malice. Hud. The Hustler. The Color Of Money. Mr and Mrs. Bridge. Twilight. The Verdict. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Which films do you consider to be Paul’s best? What are your favourite Paul Newman films?