Essential Paul Newman at this week’s Film Club screening

September 28, 2012

One of the real challenges in developing a Film Club program is in the selection of the films themselves.  In the  case of this week’s film, the club sought to honour the career of one of Hollywood’s finest – Paul Newman.  Next – which of his 66 films to choose? 

This proved to be especially difficult when one considers that Newman was nominated for no less than 9 Academy Awards for Best Actor in a leading role, winning for the Martin Scorcese – directed hit “The Colour of Money”.  There were many claims that this was a consolation prize for being nominated, but overlooked, for such classics as “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, “The Verdict” and, particularly, “The Sting”.

For Sundays offering, the Film Club has chosen one of Newman’s classic roles – that of Lucus Jackson in “Cool Hand Luke”.  This film is pure, quintessential “Newman” – he absolutely smoulders in the role.  Filmed in 1967, Newman was 41 at the time and at the peak of his career.

“Cool Hand Luke” won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (George Kennedy), and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role ( Newman), and Best Music, Original Music Score, Best Writing, and Best Screenplay.

The film tells the story of Luke, who is arrested for destroying parking meters one drunken night in the late 1940’s, and sentenced to two years in a Florida prison camp run by a ruthless Warden.  Refusing to submit to the brutal system, Luke escapes from the chain gang several times, and becomes something of an idol to the other inmates.

This film is considered to be of significant heritage value, and, in 2005, the United States Library of Congress deemed it to be “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant”, and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

And Newman himself?  He went on to act and direct films until in his seventies, as well as developing into one of the world’s foremost sports car drivers and establishing “Newmans Own” food products, which donate all post-tax proceeds to charity.  Up until 2010, this amounted to more than 300 million Dollars.

Film Club membership continues to grow, and now stands at 34.  The last two months see another two great movies – “Little Voice” (October), and “The Eye of the Storm” (November).  Members should also stand by for an announcement of a special treat during December.  It is easy to become a member – just come to the film and membership can be arranged on the spot.

PLEASE NOTE – Sundays screening – normally at 4pm – would clash with the Rugby League Grand Final.  To overcome this, “Cool Hand Luke” will begin screening at 2pm, and finish soon after 4pm for those who wish to go home and watch the footy.
See you at the movies!