|Producer’s Committee Film Picks for September 2009This month we are doing a tribute to Paul Newman, who died one year ago September 26th. There will be no theatrical film to go to, just three of Paul Newman’s best for us to feast upon and discuss.
THE HUSTLER (1961) @ 135 minutes. Directed by Robert Rossen.
The film stars Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott, Murray Hamilton, Michael Constantine, Vincent Gardenia, with cameos by Jake La Motta and Willy Mosconi. Synopsis: With his boyish grin and laid-back good looks, Fast Eddie Felson had fleeced his share of pool hall gamblers—but that was before he had a match with The King of the Cue Stick, Minnesota Fats. Roger Ebert wrote, “This was Paul Newman’s breakthrough into the first rank of Hollywood actors.” The Hollywood Reporter called it, “provocative and powerful”. The film was nominated for (8) Academy Awards, it won two Oscars—one for cinematographer Eugen Shuftan. Yes, this is a movie about hustling, but more than that it is about what it takes to embrace, “the cruel art of winning”.
COOL HAND LUKE (1967) @ 126 minutes. Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
The film stars Paul Newman, George Kennedy, J.D.Cannon, Strother Martin, Morgan Woodward, Dennis Hopper, Lou Antonio, Robert Drivas, Jo Van Fleet, Wayne Rogers, Anthony Zerbe, Luke Askew, Robert Donner, Harry Dean Stanton, Ralph Waite, Clifton James, and Joe Don Baker. Synopsis: This is an irreverent tale of a modern day prison camp and chain gang. Luke is a loner, who won’t, or can’t conform or bend to the arbitrary rules of his captivity. This is a top-notch movie full of humor, tragedy, cruelty, compassion, and dramatic grand story-telling—that sets the benchmark for any other film of this genre. As his pal, Dragline said, “Old Luke was a natural-born world shaker.” Tagline: His crime: nonconformity. His sentence: the chain gang.
MR. AND MRS. BRIDGE (1990) @ 124 minutes. Directed by James Ivory.
The film stars Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Robert Sean Leonard, Kyra Sedgewick, Blythe Danner, Simon Callow, and Austin Pendleton. Synopsis: A portrait of a strait-laced well-to-do Kansas couple during the decade before WWII, coping with the demands of their growing children, and the changes that begin to overtake them. Mrs. Bridge feels strongly that the world they have built together is crumbling brick by brick—but Mr. Bridge is resolute, a firm believer in the family, and his place at the head of the table. Tagline: Divided by time and tradition. United by love and hope. The story of an unforgettable family. The Variety staff wrote, “Mr. & Mrs. Bridge is an affecting study of an upper-crust Midwestern family in the late 1930s. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala has adapted two Evan S. Connell novels into a taut script. Books Mrs. Bridge (1959) and Mr. Bridge (1969) painted (from each spouse’s point of view) a portrait of stuffy Kansas City lawyer Walter Bridge and his stifled wife, India, by a steady accretion of anecdotal detail. The screenplay presents a series of highly dramatic scenes in their lives, the payoffs among the novels’ hundreds of brief chapters.”