THE FABULOUS PAUL NEWMAN REMEMBERED

I grew up loving PAUL NEWMAN.

He was one of the most beautiful men I’ve ever had the pleasure of beholding. Like a lot of guys, he seemed to improve with age. It was no drawback where he was concerned.

Nearly three quarters of the men I’ve been romantically involved with have had blue eyes. But PAUL had the most spectacular intense azure gaze I’d ever seen.

I adored his self deprecating stance. I believe that’s what drew many people to him. He was not an ordinary man in any sense of the word. He was unbelievably handsome, tremendously talented, exceptionally magnetic and a humanitarian of the highest order. But he made every Joe and Jane on the street believe that he was just like them.

Character goes a long way with me. I loved the fact that he stayed married to the gorgeous and revered JOANNE WOODWARD for decades without a hint of impropriety. Considering the fact that he was the object of millions of women’s fantasies for over half a century, that’s a choice that only an extraordinarily principled man would make.

His philanthropy has been discussed in detail. But he gave vast sums of money away to charity and worked tirelessly for the causes that he felt were important.

I will miss him so much I can barely express it in words. My admiration for his tremendous gifts and his decency as a person runs very deep.

People like PAUL NEWMAN are rare.

I admired his work in many films.

He was majestic. He was brilliant. He was an utterly unique force of nature.

I enjoyed his collaboration with another idol of mine, ROBERT REDFORD, in BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID and THE STING. They worked together on a level that was astonishing.

In CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, he asks ELIZABETH TAYLOR’S sex bomb Maggie: “How are you going to have a child with a man who can’t stand you?”

But in the bathroom alone he holds her slip against his body with a naked wistfulness so tender it almost takes your breath away. His heart is breaking for her. But he can’t ever allow her to know how deeply she has wounded him.

It was awesome when he knocked the duplicitous CHARLOTTE RAMPLING out cold at the end of THE VERDICT. She had it coming…

I wanted to post his final scene in ROAD TO PERDITION. I couldn’t get past my own tears – and I don’t think anyone else could either at this point. But I love the way CONRAD HALL frames that haunting black velvet night with the sheets of rain coming down. One by one the men fall away until PAUL is confronted by TOM HANKS’ character. He eyes him stoically like a defeated old monarch and proclaims, “I’m glad it was you.”

His Fast Eddie Felson in THE HUSTLER (a revelatory classic if ever there was one) is a sharp guy on the make who learns some hard lessons he can never forget.

But my favourite performance by him in the movie that I most adore is his OSCAR winning take on Fast Eddie’s golden years in MARTIN SCORSESE’S THE COLOR OF MONEY. I am thrilled beyond belief that the ACADEMY bestowed its highest honour on him for portraying this recklessly charismatic rogue.

BOB HOSKINS gave a performance for the ages in the dangerously glittering MONA LISA. But that award belonged to PAUL regardless.

Sometimes they really do get it right…

The elegant silver haired Adonis runs as many angles as he ever did. It’s much too risky to show his vulnerable side. But hanging with Vincent (a brash immature TOM CRUISE) and Carmen (the willfully seductive goddess MARY ELIZABETH MASTRANTONIO) proves to be a lot more than he bargained for.

It’s great when Carmen tells Eddie that if “you can’t cut the mustard, you can still lick the jar.” He replies, “No one ever asked me for a refund, honey.” She responds, “Not yet,” while Vincent cackles raucously in the background.

Then there’s the scene where Eddie and Carmen make out in a pool hall to get everyone going. Vincent is supposed to start an argument so that people will get conned into playing with them and up the ante seriously. Eddie and Carmen are wildly attracted to each other.

Vincent is an idiot. But he’s not so ridiculously dense that he doesn’t understand the subtext. Outside in the alley he can’t contain his jealousy and he loses it. Despite his business partner and his girlfriend telling him that they’re just in performance mode.

But the YOUTUBE clip that I have spotlighted is the WEREWOLVES FROM LONDON sequence.

Farewell to you, my cerulean sweetheart.

You have left an irrevocable impression on me – and the rest of the world – that will last until the end of time…

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