Critics, Fellow Filmmakers Talk About Paul Newman

Some critics' and fellow filmmakers' comments about Paul Newman:

"Newman is an actor-star in the way that Bogart was. His range isn't enormous; he can't do classics, any more than Bogart could. But when a role is right for him, he's peerless." — Pauline Kael, review of "Slap Shot," 1977.

"Newman you know all about. At his age he has such sex appeal that when the husband gets jealous, we believe it. He has that shucks, ma'am grin, and then you see in his eyes the look of a man who is still driving race cars, and can find an opening at 160 mph." — Roger Ebert, review of "Where the Money Is," 2000.

"Mr. Newman is perhaps the most resourceful and dramatically restrained of the lot. He give an ingratiating picture of a tortured and tested young man." — Bosley Crowther, New York Times review of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," 1958.

"'Hud' is a provocative picture with a shock for audiences who have been conditioned like laboratory mice to expect the customary bad-guy-is-really-good-guy reward in the last reel of a western. Paul Newman, the title-role bad guy, is a cad to the end. But if Hud Bannon is a bounder, he is never a bore. With his good looks, appetite for hell-raising and rootless amorality, he follows his code of don't-give-a-damn with snakelike charm." — Time magazine, review of "Hud," 1963.

"Where are the romantic idols who made their reputations on their appeal to women, the John Barrymores and Leslie Howards to whom women offered themselves in marriage? ... (L)ike most of their colleagues, (Robert) Redford and (Paul) Newman would rather be `real people' than actors, and would rather be `real actors' than romantic leads. ... Women respond to them perhaps because they represent the wine of the old romance in a new bottle." — Molly Haskell in "From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies," 1974.

"Could it be that Newman was always uncomfortable with his natural assets — such handsomeness — and never convinced by them? That would account for the uneasy mixture of porous cockiness and mumbling naturalism, just as it fits with his urge to prove himself as a serious citizen." — David Thomson, "A Biographical Dictionary of Film," 1994.

"The iconic teaming of Paul Newman and Robert Redford was so magical — and so profitable, scoring the year's biggest hit — that this offbeat character study/action comedy in Western trappings ... has been a touchstone for bickering buddy pictures ever since." — On "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" in "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die," edited by Steven Jay Schneider.

"Pulling lover Paul Newman into the bedroom adjacent to his office, she pants, `It's my lunch hour,' and he quips, 'I'm not a cheeseburger, you know.' ... Newman's wrong, of course, he is too a cheeseburger, and so is everyone else in this all-star BBQ." — Review of "The Towering Inferno," 1974, from the book "Bad Movies We Love," by Edward Margulies and Stephen Rebello.

"Paul Newman, just by being the fair-haired, blue-eyed boy in such a nasty context, cannot help scoring." — John Simon, review of Robert Altman's "Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson," 1976.

"But what really made everyone out there like him was that he became the rebel with a cause. As Cool Hand Luke or Butch Cassidy, Newman gave his audiences a vicarious thrill by thumbing his nose at an unjust society. ... It wasn't the blue eyes. It was the red blood and the gray matter." — "The 100 Greatest Stars of All Time," Entertainment Weekly. (Newman is No. 13.)

"He'd slug me if I was to call him an icon that I was intimidated by. He wouldn't want to hear anything about it. But the fact is, come on, he's Paul Newman. But he's much more than anything you'd expect. He's much more relaxed, unassuming. He gets it. He understands that the biggest job of being an actor, the hardest thing to do is to really capture 45 seconds of truth on film in the course of a long day." — actor Tom Hanks, 2002.

"Paul is a character actor. Leading men's parts, those bore him, as his beauty bores him. I don't think he has any vanity whatsoever. Playing the sort of ne'er-do-wells and losers and bums, I think it's a way of saying 'There's more to me than what I look like."' — director Sidney Lumet, 1994.

"He decided at a relatively late age (26) he was going to be an actor, and that he was going to drama school. ... Everything he did, he was always a little bit older than the others." — author Gore Vidal, a longtime friend, 1994.

"There is a kind of empathy he has shown throughout his career for this kind of underdog. ... Go back and look at 'Hud.' Look at 'Cool Hand Luke.' He just feels what they're going through from the inside, just feels them. He loves the way people just barely get by. He loves that kind of margin. Those people interest him the most." — director Robert Benton, 1994.