Because I’m Free. Nothin’s Worrying Me..

Some of my favorite movies of all was of course, the movie from where that scene was taken, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, a VCD of which I can see on my top shelf right now. I bought it at one of those big VCD sales in the malls. He played the loud and fast talking Butch Cassidy to his alter ego the Sundance Kid, Robert Redford’s cool character. In it was also Kathrine Ross, whom I remember for The Graduate.

Then there’s Color Of Money, where he plays an aging pool player who decides to teach a pool genius played by Tom Cruise how to hustle, also in it was a very hot Elizabeth Mastrantonio (who I remember as Al Pacino’s younger sister (?) in Scarface. Anyway, Tom Cruise, as usual, disappeared in this film, but the scene I remember most was when Newman’s character realized he still had game in him, and wanted to play Cruise’s character for real – not for money. A terrific character that went from smug forgotten hustler to determined pool player, wanting to get back into a game he pretends to use for money but he actually really loves.

There are other roles I liked, such as Tom Hank’s boss in Road To Perdition, and I distinctly remember his character in The Hot Tin Roof, the only Elizabeth Taylor movie I know (he plays his wife), where he plays, to the best of my knowledge (I was a kid then), a sad character obsessed with football, who remembers plays and in a scene, was explaining them to his disinterested but concerned wife. Whenever I realize I get too obsessed with basketball, I remember Paul Newman’s character in Hot Tin Roof.

I remember him most though, for the 1982 ‘The Verdict’. A movie that for the longest time I thought was a Grisham book because it had a lawyer as the central character, until I realized lately that Grisham wouldve been in high school then or something.

Anyway, Newman again plays a boozing down and out character, and because of the film I understood what an ambulance chaser was. His character goes to funerals of people he doesn’t know and offers his services, in one scene he gets kicked violently out because of. I can’t remember the details much anymore, but at the end of the movie, the phone was ringing of the hook in his office, while he stretched back in his chair just letting it. I remember asking someone older what that meant, after which it was explained to me that he was ‘made’ already, after having won a big case which didn’t have a chance. I began to be aware and look for similar scenes in movies after that, where stories were written for people who take the time to think, rather than have things spoonfed.

Strangely enough, such movies have dwindled rather than flourished over the years, and so The Verdict stands as a movie that symbolizes the ‘they don’t make movies like they used to’ phrase we all hear far too often.

Such is the case I suppose for people like Paul Newman. I highly doubt we’ll see others of even the same calibre as he anymore. I am sorry to see him go. I will enjoy his movies always.

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