I managed to finish up my Summer of Paul with The Sting this past week so I thought I’d share impressions of that movie, two of Paul’s sort of “epic” films, From the Terrace and The Philadelphians and one in his later years, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, as a type of close out to my Summer of Paul movie watching. I’m going to place a spoiler here and tell you I did not finish Mr. and Mrs. Bridge for various reasons. Read on to find out why.
First From the Terrace.
Warning: There will be spoilers for this one, so if you haven’t seen the movie and are just dying to do so (I have no idea why you would want to, however), then don’t read on, or skip on to my impression of The Philadelphians.
If you don’t think you are a fan of Paul or of his amazing good looks then you need to at least see him in the beginning From the Terrace, specifically the scene with him and Joan Woodward (his wife by the time this movie was made) on a boat. Oh my. I’m not usually the swooning type but — swooooon. I felt the need to fan myself and then give my husband a kiss (lest you think my crush on Paul distracts me from loving my husband. Don’t worry. I’m not that far gone.)
Alfred (Paul’s character) certainly doesn’t have it easy in this movie, but he also doesn’t always make things easy for himself. He has an alcoholic mother, an angry and bitter father still mourning the death of a young son, his firstborn, who died some 20 years earlier. Alfred’s choice of work and then a few other bad life choices also don’t make his life easy.
I read some reviews that called it melodramatic garbage and it was, but it was also well acted by everyone involved, even the characters I hated. I think I hated them so much because they were so well acted.
I wasn’t fond of many aspects of the movie to be honest. At the end these words came to mind, “Wow. That was a pile of hot garbage.”
This movie was like watching a train wreck, since I pretty much assumed where it was going and I wouldn’t get a nice ending, and while I don’t usually really agree with the critics, I did this time. I see a lot of movie critics as stuck-up elitists and usually like what they don’t and hate what they do. This time around I had to agree with the critics who said the movie was horrible.
Despite this movie being so awful, it was progressive in many ways with themes that were unnerving and made me cringe a bit, similar to A Streetcar Named Desire, which I watched earlier in the summer.
If lines like “What does success look like when you turn out the lights?” isn’t enough to tell you that this movie is full of innuendos and suggestive moments, I don’t know what is.
In the end, though, this movie was two and a half hours of watching the destruction of a man and his marriage, and that’s not really a spoiler. It’s obvious by the movie’s description that it isn’t going to go well for the guy. They could have destroyed his life in an hour and a half and still reached the same conclusion, in my opinion. This is a movie where it’s normal to have a lover on the side if your wife or husband isn’t showing you the attention you think they should. Communication be damned, I guess.
It was awkward and cringeworthy for me to watch Paul make eyes at a woman who was not his wife for the second half of the movie, so I ended up fast forwarding a lot. I guess we were supposed to feel sympathetic to his “plight” but I didn’t. He was the one who traveled all the time and left his wife behind.
I couldn’t really get on board with feeling all swoony about that when he’d already invested his love in one woman and then went chasing after another as if she was now something special. Then the romantic music when he pursued a relationship with the new woman. Like this time it’s real love. Gag me.
Not only that, I’m beginning to get annoyed at Paul’s stoic way of acting. He doesn’t have a terrible lot of range in some of his movies.
Eek. I know.
How could I speak ill of my “favorite” actor? I don’t know but I guess watching this many movies of his in a row isn’t the best idea because now I am analyzing him too much.
The Young Philadelphians
This movie is pretty depressing as well with a lot of people who lie, cheat, and don’t communicate, leading to a lot of hurt and destruction.
The movie starts out with a huge lie that will shape all of Paul’s character’s life and made me sit and wonder when the lie would come out.
This is another movie where parents try to keep their children from marrying each other to protect the family name and reputation and all that jazz. This movie provided me with a lot of moments of yelling at the screen, “Why didn’t you just talk to him!?” or to her or whatever. It was full of tons of assumptions by the main characters, leaving them wandering away from each other for years and wandering based on the inferences of others, instead of the truth.
This movie was also about Paul working his way up the ladder to success to prove others wrong who said he couldn’t become successful. The movie was also sort of all over the place plot wise and got really odd at the end with a court case.
It definitely wasn’t one of my favorite movies of Paul’s, even though I have seen worse.
Mr. and Mrs. Bridge
This movie starred Paul and his wife Joan as a husband and wife.
I am going to be straight up and honest that I abandoned this movie part way in, though I should have much earlier, like after a scene where it looked like Paul was checking out Kyra Sedgwick, who plays his daughter, right before he finally does something not boring by sleeping with his wife in the middle of the day. The scene was very confusing and I don’t know if he attacked his wife because his daughter turned him on or because seeing her reminded him of his wife when she was younger. Either way, it was a really creepy scene. I thought maybe I interpreted it wrong, so I Googled for any other opinions on this scene and found this impression of it on a site called Vocal Media:
“I make this comparison because though I have described Mr Bridge as incredibly, remarkably dull, he does have one trait: he gets turned on by his daughter. Yeah, that’s a running through-line of this austere drama, dad is kind of incest-y toward his daughter. A scene in which Mr Bridge watches his daughter sunbathing leaves Mr Bridge so horny that he immediately has sex with Mrs Bridge.
It’s possible that this wasn’t the intent of the filmmakers but when you place the scene of him leering out the window, trying not to be seen while watching his daughter sunbathe, and then follow that scene with Mrs Bridge walking in and Mr Bridge is immediately (ahem), the implication is almost unmistakable. Either they intended this, or they are very bad at making movies and understanding how film language works.
Granted, this is as close to something happening in Mr. and Mrs. Bridge as the movie gets, but it’s not something that anyone should want to happen. In fact, I have to wonder why anyone thought that this was a good idea to include in this or any movie. In a movie this dull, livening things up should not include ‘my daughter made me horny so now I am having sex with my wife.’ I don’t care how boring your movie is, don’t do this.”
I agree with the assessment of the above reviewer.
The movie is based on a pair of books, one called Mr. Bridges and the other Mrs. Bridges, and I don’t think the weird incest-type stuff was in the books, from what it sounds like. They were much more innocent I’m gathering. The story I about two insanely boring people who are noticing the world is passing them by.
Mrs. Bridge doesn’t like this and wants to experience some of what she is seeing going on around her, while Mr. Bridges is very stuck in his ways and doesn’t want to change. He tries to change in tiny ways for her, only to fall back to his boring self with all his particular ways of doing things. The movie is just a series of boring scenes built on top of other boring scenes. It’s baffling why it was even made really, other than to wake people up and try to urge them not to be boring themselves.
Paul’s excellence at being boring was probably why this movie actually was boring. He’s a good actor and is even great at being boring when he needs to be.
It was so boring, I didn’t even care what happened in the end and didn’t finish it.
This movie was much more exciting, and it was a good movie to end my Paul Newman movie binge.
Paul and Robert Redford playing conmen who work to pull off a huge con on another conman in the city.
Paul is a retired big-level conman while Redford wants to break into the big-time of con jobs.
While Paul is smooth, Redford is a bumbling idiot who screws up most of the time. By the end of the movie, you start wondering if Redford’s screw ups are going to be the end of him or if he’ll pull it out after all.
Robert Shaw plays the bad guy in the film (wait..they are all conmen so who is the actual bad guy? Hmmm…) and for those who don’t know he’s also in Jaws and unpleasant things happen to him in that movie. We had a hard time watching the movie without saying things like “Watch out for the shark!”
The movie is a lot more lighthearted than some of the Paul movies I watched during my binge. I loved Paul’s personality and seeing him a character who was allowed to, and supposed to, have a range of emotions, versus characters he portrayed in other movies, which were a bit more stoic.
No matter how old Paul got, he kept those amazing good looks and crazy blue eyes, which makes watching him fun no matter what movie he is in.
For the final wrap-up, here are all the Paul Newman movies I watched this summer and fall:
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
The Long Hot Summer
Sweet Bird of Youth
A New Kind of Love
Cool Hand Luke
From The Terrace
The Young Philadelphians
In the past I watched Exodus, Twilight, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and the Towering Inferno.
Now, while I did say in my post about The Hustler, that I didn’t enjoy the movie as much as I hoped, I do recognize it as being a very well-acted and well-written movie. It was just darker than I thought, and I would have liked more Jackie Gleason.
Movies I wanted to get to but didn’t included:
The documentary on HBO Max by Ethan Hawke (The Last Movie Stars)
The Color of Money
And Somebody Up There Likes Me
I also started The Prize but got interrupted and forgot to finish it before my rental ran out.
If you want to read the impressions of the movies I watched you can search for “Summer of Paul” in the search bar.
So, how about you? How many Paul Newman movies have you seen? Any on my list? Which one was your favorite?