Neglected Gem: What a Way to Go! with Shirley MacLaine, Paul Newman, and Dick van Dyke

Posted on March 18, 2017 at 8:00 am

I don’t know why “What a Way to Go!” is not considered a classic.  It is smart, colorful, and very funny, written by the people behind “Bells are Ringing” and with a once-in-a-lifetime all-star cast: Shirley MacLaine, Dick van Dyke, Dean Martin, Gene Kelly, Paul Newman, and Robert Mitchum.  Which one of those stars does she get romantically involved with?  All of them!  This is a movie about a woman who just wants a simple, happy life, but who accidentally keeps marrying men who become hugely successful.  Each marriage is portrayed in a different movie style.  Husband number one is hometown boy Dick van Dyke (seen as a silent movie farce), followed by American in Paris Paul Newman (arty French film), industrialist Robert Mitchum (opulent, big-budget glamorous Hollywood romance), and small-town song-and-dance man Gene Kelly (big Hollywood musical).  The costumes by Edith Head are wildly over the top.

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For Your Netflix Queue Neglected gem

The Forward on Paul Newman’s Lost Film

Posted on December 1, 2016 at 3:56 pm

The Forward has a fascinating story about the long-lost short film directed by Oscar-winning actor Paul Newman in 1962. It was called “On the Harmfulness of Tobacco,” a one-person monologue, based on a story by Chekhov. Newman cast fellow Actors Studio student Michael Strong in the short film. It is scheduled to be shown on Turner Classic Movies in 2017.

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Features & Top 10s

List: Movies About Racing Cars

Posted on September 27, 2013 at 8:00 am

In honor of this week’s release of “Rush,” based on the real rivalry of Formula One drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, take a look at these movies about racing, some featuring actors who raced cars off screen as well.

Winning Real-life race car driver Paul Newman co-stars with his wife, Joanne Woodward and Robert Wagner in this story of the pressure that the racing life puts on the marriage of a competitive driver.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-eMIFbV0po

Days of Thunder The least believable neurosurgeon in the history of movies is Nicole Kidman in this story of a hot-headed racecar driver (Tom Cruise), but Robert Duvall and the racing scenes make it worthwhile.

The Love Bug series Disney’s beloved little VW Bug with 53 on the side competes with race cars.

The Cannonball Run Burt Reynolds and a bunch of comics star in this goofy story of an illegal cross-country race.

Heart Like a Wheel Bonnie Bedelia brings as much heart to her performance as Shirley Muldowney, the real-life race car driver she portrayed, brought to her ground-breaking achievements as a woman in professional racing.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby Will Ferrell stars in this spoof of racing films, co-starring John C. Reilly, Sasha Baron Cohen, and Leslie Bibb.

Le Mans Steve McQueen plays an American driver in the title race.

Grand Prix James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, Yves Montand, and Toshiro Mifune are the actors, but the star is the photography in John Frankenheimer’s film about Formula One drivers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Chbqa-u8c4c

Driven It’s not a good movie, but writer/director Sylvester Stallone manages to put some exciting car action on screen.

 

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For Your Netflix Queue Lists Neglected gem
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Interview: Paul Newman biographer Shawn Levy

Posted on May 27, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Movie critic Shawn Levy, author of the superb books King of Comedy: The Life and Art of Jerry Lewis and Rat Pack Confidential: Frank, Dean, Sammy, Peter, Joey and the Last Great Show Biz Party, has a new book about one of the most accomplished and adored movie stars of all time, Paul Newman. He very kindly made time for an interview in the midst of his book tour.

Q: Newman was one of those rare performers who become icons of their eras. What was it about his style of acting and choices of scripts that seemed so particularly characteristic of the post-WWII years?

A: He often played younger than he really was, like many actors, but it was particularly his casting as the failed sons of strong fathers in such films as “The Rack,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Hud” and, in a sense, “The Long Hot Summer” and “The Hustler” that cemented him as an icon. He carried the sensitivity of James Dean into a new era when the promise of a film like “Rebel Without a Cause” bled into mainstream and prestige films. He easily segued into rebel/countercultural figures starting in the mid-’60s (“Harper,” “Hombre,” “Cool Hand Luke,” “Butch Cassidy”). And because he was older than the characters he was playing (he was 38 when he made “Hud”), he also carried a savor of mature authority. He played, in short, equally well to both the establishment and the kids who threw mudballs at it.

Q: Is there a performance of Newman’s that you think is particularly overlooked or underrated?

A: His turn as the stage manager in the Broadway production of “Our Town,” which is available on DVD, is a classic bit of Americana. In movies, “Hombre” is tough and sullen and cool in a way you’d associate more with, oh, Steve McQueen than Newman. Both excellent films.

Q: What did he consider his biggest failing?

A: In acting, he felt he was too mechanical and calculating for the first 25 years or so of his career, and I think I’d agree. You see him pulling poses and striking moods quite deliberately even in such fine films as “The Hustler” and “Hud.” But later in life he ratcheted back and produced some astonishing performances. In life, I think he felt he was a very remote and arbitrary father until he reevaluated himself after the death of his son, Scott, in 1978.

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