Paul Newman is dead at 83. Most people from my generation know him as the old guy who got his first Oscar playing the old pool guy opposite Tom Cruise in "The Color of Money" or as the voice of Hudson Hornet in "Cars." But I was schooled on Hollywood by my dad and the movies that were the hallmarks of civilization were "Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid," "Cool Hand Luke," "The Sting," and "The Blues Brothers." You may have noticed a theme there-- one musical and 3 Paul Newman movies. When I was a kid I hated being forced to watch old movies. I thought they were outdated, out of touch and foreign. But, once I watched "Casablanca" without any prejudice I realized how great a movie it really was. That led to revelations with other movies like "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "The Sons of Katie Elder," "The Cowboys," "McClintock," and especially "Butch Cassidy" and "The Sting." I was amazed at how awesome Newman and Redford were on screen. They were the coolest... the funniest... and the baddest. If you haven't seen these films, do it today.
I was stunned to hear of Paul Newman's death today. This may sound hokey, but I felt better about this world knowing Paul Newman was alive. The man who was proudest of angering Richard Nixon, of re-inventing himself as a racecar driver and then a food specialist. Always keeping his privacy at the utmost importance and having the rare life-long Hollywood marriage. His moments in his movies can't be described by any other word than 'cool.'
First, the fight scene from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"...
Of course, the classic scene in this movie is where Redford and Newman are cornered... on the run... and desperate... and have to jump to outrun the law.
The other classic movie with these two is "The Sting." A fantastic movie about con artists putting the moves on a big time mark played by Robert Shaw. It starts with a game of poker on a train with the classic line at then end: "You're on kid. It's a tough act to follow." The start, then the end.
R.I.P. Paul Newman-- the definition of cool... and the guy who never thought for one minute that his Hollywood status made him any more important than the average Joe.