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Great value set of three Newman classics,
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This review is from: The Paul Newman 3 Film Collection [DVD]  (DVD)
I bought this mainly for value plus to complement my other Newman box set given no overlap. It is firstly incredible value with 3 great Newman movies from key points across his career plus each separately boxed DVD comes with adequate extras (unless you are really into two disc every extra going mode).
The movies each capture Newman at a key point in his career - the earliest is "The Hustler", a 1961 film I have seen a few times on TV. I never understood why it was held in such high regard but looking at many years later and with incredible shorts included on how the movie was made and how the US cinema has ignored the popular game of pool, I at last appreciate that for its time in style and approach it was a breakthrough. I still find Newman's central character overshadowed by the George Scott and Jackie Gleason roles but learning that Frank Sinatra was an early favourite for the role of Eddie Felson makes one realise the choice of Newman was perfect. It all hangs together well and an offbeat female lead performance by Piper Laurie that I had ignored and some amazing cinematography and sets using an actual pool hall for the climatic scenes, make me realise this is one that improves with age instead of looking dated.
The ultimate "buddy" movie from 1969 of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is well known and there is very little I can really add. I still find it overall a bit too feel good in style (I much prefer "The Sting") but there is no denying the chemistry formed of Newman and Redford using a great William Goldman script, tight direction by George Roy Hill and the natural beauty of Conrad Hall's cinematography - if any one is a loser it is the beautiful Katharine Ross fresh from the Graduate success and left as largely peripheral to the central male buddy story. Again the extras and the commentary are great supplements to appreciating why the film was so successful commercially.
The final and later (1982) film "The Verdict" was a surprise hit at the time and relaunched Newman to a new generation as an actor with power still in abundance (the film got 5 Oscar nominations including Newman as best actor but did not win any). I still find it an unsatisfying film (and why I award 4 not 5 stars) but re-seeing after so long I am now clearer that the issue is a poor script not Newman's performance. Indeed a cast which is very European biased (James Mason, Charlotte Rampling and Milo O'Shea) with Jack Warden and Newman all give great performances and while director Sidney Lumet's Twelve Angry Men will always be his benchmark for courtroom dramas, this is still another good movie from him. The issue I believe is a script that despite being written by David Mamet has lots of gaps. It seems clear Mamet is better at crime related movies and the tautness needed for a courtroom drama based around a medical malpractice case is only present in parts. There are jumps in story and plot; Newman's motivation is poorly explained and other characters developed and then dropped completely or inadequately (the couple whose sister is the victim and the RC bishop indirectly controlling the case). Enjoyable but not as great as the other two sadly but for under £3 per DVD this is still a great value box set.