Designated “King Cool” in the ‘50s – ‘00s Hollywood era, Paul Newman ages another year today, which would have made him 89 this year if he is still with us. Mr. Newman passed away a few years ago on 2008, but “the man with the most famous blue eyes” continues to grace the screen of many American classic film connoisseurs. A former Yale School of Drama student, Newman impressed two scouting agents at a Yale production leading him to Broadway and eventually the silver screen.
To celebrate and remember the Oscar-winning actor, we’ve placed a short list of film favorites to view on your silver screen:
1. Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956)
Newman plays boxer Rocky Graziano in a stunning biopic based on Graziano’s autobiography of the same name. The timeline follows Graziano’s shameless roughneck teenage years into his revelation of selling himself as a fighter. Eventually he gains a sense of self-respect thanks to his wife, Norma, and wins a “clean” match with Tony Zale (played by himself). Considered his first notable film (this one being his third), Somebody is deemed one of the most reveling biopics in the ‘50s.
2. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is an adaption of Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize winning play, which is centered on the conflict of fighting for millions of dollars in a Southern family. Newman plays “Brick” Pollitt a former football star with a dark remembrance of a friend, and husband to gorgeous Elizabeth Taylor, who plays Maggie. Although he is cold to his devoted wife, she continues to crave his attention. We’ll see his character grow as his father, Big Daddy (Burl Ives), comes to show him another perspective of himself.
3. The Left Handed Gun (1958)
An adaption of TV play, Newman plays William “Billy the Kid” Bonney the notorious gunslinger. Stepping out of the glitzy Hollywood glamor style, Newman plays Billy as he was: a bloodthirsty illiterate. Showing mostly his homicidal nature, it’s refreshing to see the tenderness of Billys devotion to Tunstall, a kind rancher.
4. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Crafty duo, Butch (Newman) and Sunday (Redford), are captured during their last few months Butch Cassidy’s Hole in the Wall Gang. The Gang robs another train with their trademark peaceful takeover style landing them in the home of Sundance’s sweetheart, Etta played by Katharine Ross, only to be chased by the railroad boss and his hired goons. A Western classic and probably his most well known film, Butch and Sundance has gone down as one of the most defining films in the late ‘60s.
5. The Color of Money (1986)
We really shouldn’t end a Paul Newman marathon without including his Oscar-winning role as pool hustler “Fast” Eddie Felson. The Color of Money follows the story of Eddie Felson (first introduced in another Paul Newman film, The Hustler) who coaches his latest client and arrogant protégé, Vincent Lauria played by Tom Cruise. Under Felson’s wing, Lauria hones his con art leaving Felson teeming with jealousy and prompting him to make a skillful comeback.
Naturally, Paul Newman has many other wonderful works, but these are ones to kick-start your sleepy Sunday. Enjoy!