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Monday, September 29, 2008

Paul Newman: His eyes did not turn brown - Philip French

Alistair Cooke, a very shrewd film critic, once wrote of 'stage acting as a form of sculpture and film acting as a performance with the face only - the best film actors do best with the eyes only'. He was writing about Edward G Robinson, Henry Fonda, Jean Gabin and Spencer Tracy. But Paul Newman, who has died at his home in Connecticut aged 83, belongs in that illustrious company.

Although a number of his finest pictures were in black and white (The Hustler, for example, perhaps his best film), what comes most immediately to mind when we think of him are those deep blue eyes that variously sparkle, interrogate, exude a deep pain and sadness - the sadness of innocent inexperience in such earlier roles as the troubled boxer Ricky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956) and the doomed Billy the Kid in The Left Handed Gun (1958); the sadness of a lifetime's experience in later character parts such as the retired private eye in Twilight, the elderly gang boss in Road to Perdition and the recidivist crook pulling his last heist in Where the Money Is. He once said: 'I picture my epitaph: "Here lies Paul Newman who died a failure because his eyes turned brown."'

More on Paul Newman - David Putnam, Michael Winner,Tom Hanks, Sidney Lumet, Michael Parkinson


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