Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paul Newman RIP

From The New York Times:

You see the dangerous side of his beauty in “Hud,” Martin Ritt’s irresistible if disingenuous 1963 drama about a Texas ranching family in which Mr. Newman plays the womanizing son of a cattleman (the Hollywood veteran Melvyn Douglas), who’s hanging onto a fast-fading way of life. The movie traffics in piety: the father refuses to dig for the oil that might change the family’s fortunes because he doesn’t approve of sucking the land dry. Mr. Newman plays the son, Hud, and it’s his job to sneer at the old man’s naïveté and to play the villain, which he does so persuasively that he ends up being the film’s most enduring strength.


I don’t think Mr. Newman was ever as beautiful as he is in “Hud.” His lean, hard-muscled body seems to slash against the wide-screen landscape, evoking the oil derricks to come, and the black-and-white cinematography turns his famous baby blues an eerie shade of gray. The character would be a heartbreaker if he were interested in breaking hearts instead of making time with the bodies that come with them. That’s supposed to make Hud a mean man, but mostly he seems self-interested. No one is tearing him apart and Mr. Newman doesn’t try to plumb the depths with the role, which makes the character and the performance feel more contemporary than many of the head cases of the previous decade. He finds depths in these shallows.

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