By Max Kath
I have a confession to make: I don’t know as much about Paul Newman as I feel I should. It’s not that I have anything against him I just haven’t seen that many of his movies. I’ve seen “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “Road to Perdition” and listened to him speak in the Pixar film “Cars” but I haven’t seen some of his other memorable roles. Everyone always talks about how much they love 1973’s “the Sting” or how the Oscar he got for Martin Scorsese’s 1986 film “the Color of Money” was very deserved, but the problem is that I haven’t seen either one of those movies or any of the other films that he has been in. I’m still trying to get the time to watch “Cool Hand Luke” and have to wonder how I would approach his death differently if I had been a life long fan.
The one thing I do know is that Paul Newman was a God among most of the actors from his generation, as well as being a mentor for many younger actors as well. His presence was a force to be reckoned with by most accounts, and he was also one of the most generous people alive devoting his free time in his later years to countless charities in his later years and being a political activist in his younger years. He was an enemy of President Richard Nixon and a champion of gay rights and other “hot button” issues, and let’s not forget about “Newman’s own” food product line. In short Paul Newman is the kind of man who was too big for this world and yet he found a way to live inside of it and make it better. However I can’t help but feel that I have missed something by not really caring that much about Newman’s career up until just now after his death- the man was a legend after all.
When I watched the movie “Cars” for the first time the first thing I noticed is how much I enjoyed listening to Newman talk as Doc, the old broken down racecar who never got to finish his last race. After watching the movie I remember thinking to myself that Newman’s voice could have very well been the voice of God. It was powerful but not overwhelming, soft spoken but never afraid to get gruff when it had to Most of all it was hypnotic, like listening to someone read a bedtime story to their grandchild. It’s easy to see where people are coming from when people talk about the Christ-like symbolism of “Cool Hand Luke” because in reality Paul Newman was a Christ like figure: a man who could bring people together in more than one way, and make them see the good in others. He is an man and an actor that will truly be missed.