Paul Newman – An Immortal Goes to His Reward
One of the truly great ones has passed on. his like does not come around very often. There's a lot to admire about about Paul Newman, not the least of it being his craftsmanship. his love of family, integrity, courage, and integrity are admirable. I hope he is in heaven chalking up his cue to take on the fat Man.
I have been a fan of Paul Newman's for many years and have admired his portrayal of complicated and very human characters. In many cases they have deep flaws in their character and are not perfect by any means, but they never lose the essential spirit of humanity which makes his characters so very memorable.
In the Hustler, Newman plays the character of fast Eddie Felson a young aggressive would be pool shark who is simply trying to hustle up a living playing pool in smoky bars and pool halls. He links up with an unscrupulous manager played by George C. Scott and after a series of false starts and disappointments loses an important match to Jackie Gleason's Minnesota Fats. Felson is abandoned by his manager and his girlfriend dies under mysterious circumstances, prompted by psychological pressure applied by George C. Scott. Felson is able to rise above the setbacks, fueled by his burning passion and undeniable skill at pool. He works his way back up to the top on his own in defeats Minnesota fats in a one-on-one showdown that is one of the most powerful scenes ever filmed.
In cool Hand Luke, Newman plays Luke as a happy-go-lucky drifter who is just looking to pass the time in an interesting way and finds himself working on the chain gang where he goes nose to nose against the prison captain and life itself. In his passion to live life fully, Newman's character pushes the limits of the law and the human spirit and enlists an unusual assortment of allies inside and outside of the prison. this may be his most memorable role, since Newman is usually associated with the concept of cool.
In the movie the Color of Money, Newman reprises his role as fast Eddie Felson 25 years later, older, wiser and slower. He acts as a mentor and coach to a younger incarnation of himself as played by Tom Cruise. It is an interesting character study to see the old lion teaching the young dog new tricks. this is one of the few movies that I can actually stand watching Tom Cruise at work and I attributed to the powerful performance turned in by Newman who commands your attention through his powerful restraint and deep commitment to integrity.
As great an actor as Newman was, he was a much better man and could serve as a role model for people of all ages who desire to live life with passion and integrity. He will be sorely missed and I hope he is enjoying a game of pool with Minnesota Fats in heaven.