||[Sep. 27th, 2008|07:47 pm]
Despite seeing how he looked in his occasional appearances on talk shows in recent years, I don't think I ever quite grasped just how old Paul Newman was. That's probably one reason why his death yesterday at the age of 83 came as a surprise to me. |
But thinking back, I realize that I was probably nine or ten when I first saw him in a movie; a cheesy Biblical epic called "The Silver Chalice" (based on a Thomas B. Costain potboiler, and which Newman later called "the worst movie of the 1950s.") But I have no memory remaining of seeing him in that movie, and though I recognized Pier Angeli and Jack Palance in it, Paul Newman's name just didn't stay with me afterward. The first of his performances I actually remember having seen was his turn in "The Hustler" as "Fast Eddie" Felson. It was impressive and, had I remembered him having been in "The Silver Chalice" I'm sure I'd have decided that "The Hustler" made up for it.
In between those two he had made a number of excellent movies, but they were mostly not the sort I was allowed to go see when I was a kid. In fact, as late as 1961 my mom would have disapproved highly had she known that I'd sneaked off to Pasadena to see a movie about a pool hustler. But I've seen many of his 1950s films since, and now know that he quickly redeemed himself from that first cinematic performance for which, when it was shown on television in 1966, he apologized in a full-page ad in a Hollywood trade paper.
Though I went to see most of the movies he made through the mid-1960s, by the end of that decade my movie-going had become infrequent, and though I've seen a few of his later films on television, on perusing his filmography at IMDb, I note that there are many more of his movies for me to look forward to seeing than I have already seen. I'm also reminded that he directed one of my favorite movie adaptations of a Tennessee Williams play, the 1987 film of "The Glass Menagerie" with Joanne Woodward and John Malkovitch.
It's likely that Turner Classic Movies will soon be having a tribute to him, and might run some of those movies I haven't seen. I'll explode a pack of Newman's Own popcorn and watch. I won't even avoid "The Silver Chalice" if they show it.