Thursday, October 02, 2008

My Favourite Newman Role

Reggie Dunlop, in Slap Shot (W).

Yeah, we all throw accolades at Paul Newman for the humanity he brought to The Hustler, Hud and Cool Hand Luke. He deserves them. And while I have not seen every film Newman made, I doubt he ever played a more reprehensible character than Reggie Dunlop.

The movie's script, storyline and pacing are a complete hash -- the sort of scrambled-eggs-for-the-hangover project that would never get green lighted by today's studios, but was the standard for the 70s. Slap Shot is a choppy exercise at best, but oy! does it ever stick to the brain cells. It's lewd, crude, degenerate, unreflective and unrepentant, and at the center is Newman's Dunlop, who embodies all these traits to perfection. One gander at that picture reveals exactly what Newman brought to the set: a man whose body was too old to play decent hockey and whose personality was too locked-in by Type-A (for "Adolescent") cunning to be decent about anything.

Reggie Dunlop is an awful man (language warning!). And the fact that I didn't want to miss a single second of Newman's performance in this film is a tribute to his remarkable capacities as an actor.

4 comments:

DarkoV said...

WP,
It's not only Newman's crude behaviour and language that makes the movie...uhm...wonderful and addictive, it's his ability to wear the worst clothes ever, in every scene, and carry it off that reflects how great of an actor he is. In that clip you linked to, he's wearing a poorly dyed too-large naugahyde-leather leisure that would have restricted most professional actors.
Instead, as Newman wears this sartorial disaster, it's a cheap man's coat of armor as he deals with the enemies of the team.

And I protest! You stated that Reggie Dunlap was not decent about anything. He was nice, almost (emphasis on almost) fatherly to Lily Braden, the bride of the Chiefs' star, Ned Braden.)

Although I love Slap Shot, I still think Nobody's Fool is my favorite Newman movie. It just gets better and better with every repeated view.

Yahmdallah said...

'S funny how it's difficult to sculpt a comment when all you have to say is: yeah!

Whisky Prajer said...

There are a number of Newman films I'm keen to see again, and Nobody's Fool is right up there. He had a terrific cast working with him, too.

Whisky Prajer said...

Also, DV, I do believe your "almost" is pretty damn crucial. Otherwise things just get a little creepy. But Slap Shot wasn't afraid of that taboo, either.