Saturday, September 20, 2008

Notes From The Bottom Drawer, "People I would Like to buy a Beer" edition

Paul Newman. You know, I have never seen a bad Paul Newman movie. Never. I'm sure somewhere in his extensive career he has done at least one turkey but I've never seen it. When he did his original screen test he had to appear with another aspiring actor, James Dean. Watch as these two young powerhouses of the silver screen stand around and crack jokes about kissing each other. The bow tie is very flattering Paul.

My personal favorite is a little known western of his called "Hombre". In it he plays a half breed Indian/Irishman who doesn't fit in with white society, and lives with his adopted tribe until he gets word that his estranged father is dead and has left him a boarding house. On his trip to sell the boarding house, he meets one of the greatest villainous actors of all time, Richard Boone. With just a sneer, Richard Boone can make your skin crawl and the bile collect at the back of your throat. I defy you to come up with an actor today that can do that.
So take some time from your busy week and sit down with this "pot-boiler" and reward yourself with some of the best that American cinema has to offer. You'll be glad you did.

Not up for a western? Well, in this day and age a "horse opera" is often a hard sell, so why not sit through a funny, yet touching bio-pic like "Blaze", with the ever vivacious Lolita Davidovich as Blaze Starr, a poor country girl turned stripper who catches the eye of Gov. Earl K. Long, played by Newman. Two of my all time favorite lines from moviedom come from this movie, "You don't mind if I keep my boots on do you? I need 'em for traction," and "I'd fire the damn freeloader if I could!" as they bookend the one sex scene. Newman shines as the cagey, and somewhat crazy, Governor of the great state of Louisiana in the 1950's, who falls in love with a stripper and tries to maintain his hold on the government long enough to push his equal rights bill through the statehouse.

Davidovich is engaging throughout the whole movie as a real-life "fallen woman with a heart of gold" as she is unapologetic for her career, but maintains her strict moral code as she guides the fiery Earl to do one good thing with his administration. The lawn mower scene could stand alone as one of the funniest moments in film, as I think everyone who has ever had to start a gasoline engine with a pull-string can attest.

Make no mistake about it, Earl is as crooked as any politician who ever walked this earth, as the bobcat at the end of the film can attest, but he is crooked for all the right reasons, unlike any politician I could name.

I know in my heart of hearts that any of my regular readers have seen "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" so there is no point in recommending this little gem. This staple of Saturday Afternoon Movie's needs no endorsement on my part, so perhaps you could revisit 1994's "Hudsucker Proxy", or 2002's "Road to Perdition" to see him in some of his best supporting actor roles. In my mind, there isn't another actor that you could name who would have filled these roles better.

No discussion of the works of Paul Newman would be complete without a nod to "Cool Hand Luke". This picture struck a chord with me like few others. I have had nights when I would have gladly beheaded a few parking meters just for the sake of "sticking it to the man" and I am afraid that I suffer from a "lack of communication" and I might be one of those that "you just can't reach".

For follow-ups to the above movies let me recommend: "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean", "Harper", "Hud", "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof", "Slap Shot" and any other damn movie of his you can think of. He was even great as Kevin Costner's dad.



  1. Paul makes a hell of a good Peach/mango salsa.


  2. I have been meaning to do a post about what a cool guy Paul Newman is. Not just his acting, but his philanthropy. The guy has raised $220 million dollars for charity! He's one of the best.

  3. He is one of my all time favorites also, this was a good trip down memory lane. Thanks Doc!

  4. This was great! I've never seen Hombre but I've seen all the other flicks you mention. I'd never seen that screen test clip before.


  5. #1- I'm partial to his spaghetti sauce.

    Some Guy- That was something I want to cover in the article, but it was getting a little long the way it was. Not only is he ultra cool, but he has the longest running marriage in Hollywood to Joanne Woodward. Nice to hear from you.

    Skyler's Dad- You got any other favorites? Bogart? Gable? Denham Elliot?

    Bubs- I'm sorry that the sound is so poor on the screen test, but it was the only one I could find. Hombre is well worth the time. The scene in the stagecoach with the Indian Agent and his wife is electric, and the tension is palpable. Great to see you are out and about. Hope school is going well. Keep in touch.


  6. We'll be over in about 1/2 hour. Ice down a few and we'll toss some back while watching these clips.

  7. That wasn't me, that was the cap'n, but yeah we'll be over. Actually, we're there right now.

  8. Excellent acting, and not bad salad dressing. To my knowledge, the only dog he ever appeared in was Pocket Money with Lee Marvin. Crap, pretty much.

  9. That was some lovely beer and pizza last nite, Doc. Just the prescription to fill my ills!!


Write your beer-fueled ravings here...