Monday, September 29, 2008

Ole Blue Eyes

Some folks will immediately think of Frank Sinatra, but for me it was always Paul Newman who was "Ole Blue Eyes".

I remember watching Cat On a Hot Tin Roof with my parents way back in the sixties. I would watch it with my father on many an occasion after that. It is an exquisitely written play, but it was enhanced multi-fold by the performances of Burl Ives and Paul Newman on the screen. I think Daddy and I were both particularly fond of the "mendacity" scene in the basement where father and son confronted their demons.

I remember The Long Hot Summer where Paul Newman played opposite his wife Joanne Woodward. It was sultry and steamy and sexy as all get out. And then I remember the two of them in a bit of fluff called Rally Round the Flag, Boys! that came from the same pen as the man who wrote the novel behind the Dobie Gillis television series. The atmosphere of the two movies was as far apart as could be, but I loved watching them play against each other at both ends of the spectrum.

We went to see Hombre with Daddy somewhere, possibly at the theater in Gonzales. For sheer enjoyment of those blue eyes, there is a scene in that movie where you can swim in them. The movie wasn't the greatest, but the scenery (particularly those blue eyes) was fabulous.

I especially remember sitting in the dark theater and watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid the first time. The team of Newman and Redford was magical. I just ate it up with a spoon, as Butch would say. A few years later they were even better in The Sting. I loved Newman as the drunken Henry Gondorff at the beginning.

There were many other performances where Newman did what he did best. He was never anything but absolutely enjoyable. And he did many things to prove he was a good, decent person in private life. I've enjoyed many a bottle of Newman salad dressing, feeling good that some of the proceeds went to charity.

I am going to miss those blue eyes and the man behind them. He was one of the greats.


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