If Paul Newman was in it, it was a Paul Newman movie.

Arts, entertainment, and more.
Sept. 29 2008 6:54 AM

The Bluest Eyes

The pleasures of watching Paul Newman.

Also in Slate, read Dahlia Lithwick's obituary of Paul Newman and Stephen Metcalf's tribute to his favorite Newman moment on film.

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This last clip is also from a movie Newman made with Woodward,the 1990 Merchant-Ivory drama Mr. and Mrs. Bridge. But Woodward barely features in this scene, in which Newman's character, a rigidly conservative Midwestern businessman, glances out the window as his daughter (Kyra Sedgwick), an aspiring actress in the full bloom of youth, sunbathes on the lawn. Without speaking a word, and in just a few seconds, Newman registers at least four distinct emotions: paternal disapproval at his daughter's scanty attire, a troubled stirring of arousal, the immediate stern repression of that arousal, and finally a moment of solitary sadness. It's not that you come away thinking that Mr. Bridge wants to do his own daughter—this is a Merchant-Ivory film, not some Italian melodrama about incest—but you see at what cost he's kept the world of the flesh at arm's length his whole life.

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The delicacy of that moment is what I mean by the Buddhism of Newman's late style. It was as if the raw sexual energy of those early roles had passed through a refiner's fire, concentrating itself into his smallest expressions and gestures. As his own beautiful body aged, Paul Newman's acting grew ever more deeply embodied, and ever more beautiful.