Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Paul Newman's Exodus



By chance I checked out a DVD last week of the 1960 movie version of "Exodus" starring Paul Newman as the Zionist hero Ari...



...here being injected with adrenaline in his heart a la "Pulp Fiction" by Eva Marie Saint.



The three-and-a-half hour widescreen Otto Preminger film had disappeared from repertory theatres over the last 40 years and I'd never seen it before. Surprisingly, most of it holds up rather well, possibly because it was filmed on location in Cyprus and Palestine. The authenticity is also helped by the thousands of extras who look like they had probably participated in the 1946-47 historical events surrounding the founding of modern Israel that were recreated for the film.



In some ways, the movie has the feeling of a proto "Battle of Algiers," including the bombing of the King David Hotel by the Irgun terrorist group. However, being a Hollywood spectacular, there are plenty of absurdities, mostly in the casting. Peter Lawford as an anti-semitic British officer, Sal Mineo as an Irgun terrorist and John Derek (husband of Bo) as the "good" Arab are all ridiculous.



What this movie mostly reminded me of is how much fun it is to watch Paul Newman no matter how mediocre the movie might be, and the vast majority of the films he starred in are truthfully not that good.



He wasn't even a particularly great actor, in the Daniel Day-Lewis sense of that phrase, but he was always interesting, sexy and beautiful to watch, even when mouthing Dalton Trumbo's turgid speeches in "Exodus."



The finale is Paul's funeral oration for John Derek and the little blonde girl Holocaust survivor who has been kidnapped and killed by an Arab terrorist. He pleads for a time where "Arab and Jew will share in a peaceful life this land that they have always shared in death." My partner Tony remarked, "Apparently, not in your lifetime, Paul."

11 comments:

zoo said...

he was the coolest indeed, and you're right, even in crappy things like the long hot summer he was always good, "but not in the Daniel Day-Lewis sense of that phrase,"?, PLEASEEEEEEEE , what a pompous pedantic piece of trash was his last PT Anderson thing (loved boogie nights and punch drunk and even hard 8!!! but the last one...it was a bad as Kenneth brannag junk!

sfmike said...

Dear Pedro: Totally disagree with you about "There Will Be Blood," which I expected to hate since I'm not a big PT Anderson fan, but I found the movie fascinating. You're not the only person whose taste I respect who feels that way about the movie, though.

The scene where Day-Lewis actually upstages the baby he's holding on the train had me laughing and so did his murderous bowling pin scene with the creepy minister. Personally, I'll never get over his performances in "My Left Foot" and "My Beautiful Launderette."

zoo said...

Sf Mike, love my "My Beautiful Launderette" and he was great in the underrated Age of Innocence closest I've seen to a Visconti made in USA,and I can only think of Rhalph Fiennes as another actor with the same intensity in eyes, it wasn't him(lewis), actually the silent scenes were beautifully shot, but it was the story...the tone, PT Anderson said to himself " I'm gonna make a master piece", "this is something that my grand kids will remember" and that was that!

Jim and Heather on Meerkat said...

Well I think he was great in certain movies... go a little slightly forward as "Butch Cassidy" or "The Sting". Worked for me.

sfmike said...

Dear j & h: Envy you your boat in Baja. I guess I didn't make it clear about Paul Newman. He was great in just about every movie he was ever in, but the movies themselves tended to be not so good. And though it's just a matter of taste, "Butch Cassidy" and "The Sting" are definitely not my cup of tea.

Chinese Girl said...

I haven't never seen this movie,but I was moved by your desciption,and if any chance,I will see it,thank you for your this article and good luck!

RocketSauceJosh said...

I drink your milkshake.

I drink it up...

*slurp*

Rachete said...

He'll be missed.

http://apaintersdiary.blogspot.com/

janinsanfran said...

Never occurred to me to see this movie, but you've piqued my curiosity. Read the book in childhood.

San Francisco Photos said...

I love that shot of Paul Newman's chest and nipple. It's quite sexy!!!!

Speak No Evil said...

doesn't Paul Newman make organic food?