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Paul Newman Movie . . . Books

July 7, 2009 by Reader's Connection

Paul Newman: A LifeIn celebration of the new biography Paul Newman: A Life by Shawn Levy, Ellen Flexman (East 38th Street Library) encourages us to read some of the books that inspired some of Newman´s great performances.

So here are some of the books, with excerpts from the reviews of Newman in the movies based on the books. You follow that?

Road to Perdition

Road to Perdition written by Max Allan Collins ; art by Richard Piers Rayner

Mr. Newman’s Rooney, with his ferocious hawklike glare, sepulchral rasp and thunderous temper, has the ultimate power to bestow praise and shame, to bless and to curse. The role, for which the 77-year-old actor adopts a softened Irish brogue, is one of Mr. Newman’s most farsighted, anguished performances. — New York Times

Empire Falls

Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Mr. Newman shines here as an actor, happily unafraid of hamming. When he first encounters Jimmy, the truant-turned-cop who grew up with Miles, he booms: “Jimmy Minty! My God! What a stupid kid you were growing up! How the hell are you, Jimmy? I don’t think I can remember anybody as untalented as Jimmy. My God, it was pitiful. But I guess it’s a lesson to us all. Never give up on a child.” — New York Times

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams

Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman’s performances serve as cinematic icons; the heat and hatred between them ignites the screen, fueled by Tennessee Williams’s insightful and brilliant dialogue. — Rotten Tomatoes

Mr. Bridge

Mr. Bridge by Evan S. Connell

It is thanks mostly to Newman’s perfectly starched performance, which plays well against Woodward’s more tremulous support, that the movie is so watchable. He is all sharp angles, a snappy-suited figure of uncomprehending intolerance at the flighty women continually impeding his measured path. — Washington Post’s review of Mr. and Mrs. Bridge

Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell

Mrs. Bridge

Nobody's Fool

Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo

Sitting in the dark, watching Paul Newman’s performance in Nobody’s Fool, I jotted down the word “humility.” It seemed to be the word that fit best. . . He does what he does with simplicity, grace and a minimum of fuss, and so I wonder if people even realize what a fine actor he is. — Chicago Sun-Times

Our Town

Our Town by Thorton Wilder

But then there is Paul Newman, a few decades beyond his halcyon days as a screen idol, to be sure, the pitch of his voice heightened by age, but his body and movements solid and sure and his careful command of the role, and of the stage, unflagging. This is a terrific performance, perhaps one of the best Stage Managers you’ll ever see. But what you won’t see, as Newman quietly weaves a tapestry of benign detachment toward the townsfolk, are any seams. — San Francisco Chronicle

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