Entertainment :: Movies

TCM Greatest Classic Legends: Paul Newman

by Ed Tapper
Contributor
Thursday Jun 27, 2013
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Having appeared mostly on television, Paul Newman broke into films in the mid-1950s, and went on to become one of the biggest of Hollywood superstars. Though he did not possess great range, he was peerless in roles that suited him temperamentally. And, possessing Greco-Roman good looks, and a perfectly sculpted body, he was never an eyesore!

TCM’s new DVD set, "Greatest Classic Legends Film Collection: Paul Newman," includes four of his star vehicles, of which "Cool Hand Luke" is perhaps the best known. He is perfectly cast as a tough, laconic, free spirit imprisoned on a Southern chain gang, and bucking bully George Kennedy, and sadistic authorities. Several future stars appear as fellow inmates, and there is a notable cameo from the great Jo Van Fleet as Newman’s mother. Shot in Panavision, the film looks great in widescreen format.

One of Newman’s less famous "H" movies, the suspenseful "Harper" is a winner all the way. Harking back to crime dramas of the 40’s, the whodunit has the title private eye investigating the kidnapping of a sleazy billionaire. The script is replete with sardonic humor, and the supporting cast includes several major film stars in colorful, small roles. Be sure to catch the campy theatrical trailer included as an extra.

"...possessing Greco-Roman good lucks, and a perfectly sculpted body, he was never an eyesore!"

Less amusing, but equally exciting, is "The Mackintosh Man." The 1973 film was directed by John Huston, and includes some beautiful location photography in Ireland and Malta. In this stylish, espionage chiller, Newman is an agent who gradually uncovers a major British espionage ring, narrowly escaping death at several junctures. The great James Mason creates a wonderfully, unctuous villain.

Newman’s breakthrough film, the 1956 black and white "Somebody Up There Likes Me," still packs a wallop. Directed by Robert Wise, the superbly crafted biopic traces the rise of Rocky Graziano from an early life of crime to fame in the world of professional boxing. Newman gives a virtuoso performance and is flanked by an ethereal Pier Angeli, and the serious acting chops of Eileen Heckart, Everett Sloane, and Sal Mineo. Look quickly for Steve McQueen as a fellow teenage gang member.

One of the most prolific of modern movie stars, Newman left us a major legacy of films. The four in TCM’s new compilation are certainly worth adding to your collection.

TCM Greatest Classic Legends Film Collection: Paul Newman
DVD
$24.99
www.TCM.com

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