THE PAUL NEWMAN COLLECTION
SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME
SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME is the film that put Paul Newmanís film career on the map, which he ironically owed to the death of the filmís intended star James Dean. Under Robert Wiseís assured direction (with terrifically staged boxing sequences), Newman portrays Middleweight champion Rocky Graziano in this way above average film biography. SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME takes Graziano from the mean streets of New York, which set him on a criminal path, to prison, into the army and military prison, where he was trained in the Sweet Science that would bring him fame. The cast of SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME also features Pier Angeli, Everett Sloane, Eileen Heckart, Sal Mineo and Harold J. Stone.
THE LEFT-HANDED GUN
With more depth and characterization than a typical oater, THE LEFT-HANDED GUN plays the western as more of a psychological drama, than was typical for this particular genre at the time it was made. Considering that this Arthur Penn directed western is an adaptation of Gore Vidal work (by way of Leslie Stevens), it should come as no surprise that this isnít going to be your typical film about outlaw Billy the Kid. THE LEFT-HANDED GUN portrays the film's protagonist William Bonney (Newman) in a seemingly sympathetic light that helps to justify, or at the least, explain away his killings as acts of revenge on those that responsible for murdering the cattle man for whom he worked. Not surprisingly, two wrongs don't make a right and as Bonney continues on the path vengeance, innocent parties get caught in the crossfire with the situation spinning out of control in such a way that becomes legend, especially in the old west. The cast of THE LEFT-HANDED GUN also features Lita Milan, John Dehner, Hurd Hatfield, James Congdon, James Best, Colin Keith-Johnston, John Dierkes, Robert Anderson, Wally Brown, Ainslie Pryor, Martin Garralaga, Denver Pyle, Paul Smith and Nestor Paiva.
THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS
THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS is a solid drama with some soapy/trashy elements thrown in for good measure. In THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS Paul Newman portrays Anthony Judson Lawrence, a young lawyer trying to ascend into the social strata of Philadelphia society. Although Anthony comes from a family with a good name, amongst the blue bloods he is still looked upon as a poor relation that had to work his way through law school. When Anthony loses the woman he intends to marry, he turns his attention to his career and making his way up the social ladderÖ by whatever means necessary. Of course, he does pause to settle a few scores along the way. The cast of THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS also features Barbara Rush, Alexis Smith, Brian Keith, Diane Brewster, Billie Burke, John Williams, Robert Vaughn, Otto Kruger, Paul Picerni, Robert Douglas, Frank Conroy, Adam West, Anthony Eisley, and Richard Deacon.
HARPER is one of my favorite Paul Newman movies, if not my absolute favorite. Donít know if itís the filmís playful sense of humor, colorful characters or the morally ambiguous ending, but HARPER is definitely one heck of a detective movie. Paul Newman portrays the title character, private detective Lew Harper, whose personal life is falling apart, due to his dedication to his job. Thanks to an old friend, a new case falls into his lap involving the disappearance and possible kidnapping of a wealthy man. Since the family is looking to avoid publicity and police involvement, Harper finds himself the only investigator assigned to the case, not to mention, up to his neck in shady characters and relatives more interested in their inheritances, than the missing man. The cast of HARPER also features Lauren Bacall, Julie Harris, Arthur Hill, Janet Leigh, Pamela Tiffin, Robert Wagner, Robert Webber, Shelley Winters, Harold Gould, Roy Jenson and Strother Martin.
POCKET MONEY is a sometimes amusing character study posing as a western in a modern setting. In POCKET MONEY, Newman portrays a none-too-bright cowboy named Jim Kane, who ends up taking a job herding cattle down in Mexico, in hopes of improving his poor financial situation. Lee Marvin is Jimís friend Leonard, whom Jim comes to rely on in Mexico, as Leonard has had some experience down in the territory. As expected, down Mexico way there are a number of obstacles that come between Jim and his eventual payday. The cast of POCKET MONEY also features Strother Martin, Wayne Rogers, Hector Elizondo, Christine Belford, Kelly Jean Peters, Gregory Sierra, Fred Graham, Matt Clark and Claudio Miranda.
THE MACKINTOSH MAN
THE MACKINTOSH MAN is something of an oddball, convoluted and much maligned spy movie from director John Huston (even the director himself is reputed to have had unkind words to say about the film). The film is better than its detractors make it out to be, but THE MACKINTOSH MAN still is far from perfect. In THE MACKINTOSH MAN, Newman portrays Joseph Rearden, who in the course of doing a job for British Intelligence, is arrested, goes to prison and escapes. Why he goes to these lengths and the ultimate objective of the mission is of course best discovered while watching the film. The cast of THE MACKINTOSH MAN also features Dominique Sanda, James Mason, Harry Andrews, Ian Bannen, Michael Hordern, Nigel Patrick and Peter Vaughan.
THE DROWNING POOL
While THE DROWNING POOL may not be of the same caliber as HARPER, I still like this film quite a bit. With THE DROWNING POOL, Paul Newman comes back to the role of Lew Harper for a second go around as the private detective. The plot of THE DROWNING POOL finds Harper in a change of venue, moving from his home base in California to Louisiana at the behest of a former flame. Murder, blackmail, youthful nymphomania and the oil business seem to be the order of the day on the bayou. Not surprisingly, Harper soon finds himself, quite literally, in way over his head. The cast of THE DROWNING POOL also features Joanne Woodward, Anthony Franciosa, Murray Hamilton, Gail Strickland, Melanie Griffith, Linda Haynes, Richard Jaeckel, Paul Koslo, Joe Canutt, Andrew Robinson, Coral Browne and Richard Derr.
Warner Home Video has made all seven films that comprise THE PAUL NEWMAN COLLECTION ($60) in their various widescreen aspect ratios and all of the films are 16:9 enhanced. HARPER and THE DROWNING POOL are 2.35:1, while the remaining films are offered at 1.78:1. Overall, the presentations of these films are up to Warnerís usual high standards. Sharpness and detail are generally quite good across the board, although the cinematography in POCKET MONEY gives the impression of being a tad more diffuse than the other color films. In most of the color films, hues tend to be rendered at a natural level of saturation, except for HARPER, which was originally printed in Technicolor and retains some of the lush qualities of the now defunct process. SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME, THE LEFT-HANDED GUN and THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS constitute the black and white films in the collection, and for the most part, they look great. Blacks tend to be quite inky, while the whites are almost always completely stable. Contrast and grayscale ranges from very good to excellent, with THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS looking the most polished. Print damage or other signs of age never constitutes much of a concern on any of the seven films contained in the collection, although THE LEFT-HANDED GUN has some very minor issues in that regard. For each of the seven films, digital compression artifacts are always well contained.
All of the films that constitute THE PAUL NEWMAN COLLECTION come with fine sounding Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks. Warner has worked their usual mastering magic on all of the tracks rendering them all free from background hiss or other audible anomalies. As expected, fidelity is limited by the analog recording technologies of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, so none of the tracks have the depth and breath of modern tracks from this digital age. Still, each track sounds first rate for the time it was recorded. English dialogue is always fully understandable on each of the seven films. Alternate French monaural soundtracks are provided for all the films except THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS and POCKET MONEY. English, French and Spanish subtitles are included with each of the films. Portuguese subtites are also included on HARPER, THE DROWNING POOL and SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard film/scene selection and set up features as well as the extra features offered with each film. SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME comes with a Theatrical Trailer and a running Audio Commentary that is assembled from comments by Paul Newman, Robert Loggia, Director Robert Wise, Martin Scorsese, and Richard Schickel. THE LEFT-HANDED GUN comes with a Theatrical Trailer and a running Audio Commentary by director Arthur Penn. THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS comes with a Theatrical Trailer and a running Audio Commentary with director Vincent Sherman and film historian Drew Casper. HARPER GUN comes with a Theatrical Trailer, Introduction by Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne and a running Audio Commentary with screenwriter William Goldman. POCKET MONEY comes with a Theatrical Trailer. THE MACKINTOSH MAN comes with a Theatrical Trailer and a brief Featurette entitled John Huston: The Man, The Myth, The Moviemaker. THE DROWNING POOL comes with a Theatrical Trailer and a brief Featurette entitled Harper Days Are Here Again.
With seven movies comprising THE PAUL NEWMAN COLLECTION it should come as no surprise that the collection features some truly great films from the legendary actorís career (in addition to some not so great offerings). Warnerís presentations of the films are up to their usual high standards- ranging from merely very good, to excellent. If you are a fan, the miniscule price for the collection makes it acquisition a no brainer. Recommended.
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