Monday, September 29, 2008

Paul Newman sighting at Perpignan

One last note about the nightly slide projections at Visa Pour L'Image (as it pertains to, of all people, Paul Newman). This image was taken during my final night in Perpignan and is literally a screen grab showing a sampling of photographs from the Shaw Family Archives, which is distributed in France by the agency Roger Viollet. These images look to be either publicity photographs or behind-the-scenes pictures taken during the filming of "Paris Blues," which starred Paul Newman and Sidney Portier as American expatriate jazz musicians wooing American tourists Joanne Woodward (Newman's wife) and Diahann Carroll. Louis Armstrong is also in the movie, and appears here along with Duke Ellington (perhaps Ellington was technical consultant?). Something I am recalling now is watching the bonus material on the DVD for "The Hustler." Included on the DVD is an interview with Newman, talking about how he was in Paris for "Paris Blues" when he entered into discussions about being cast as Fast Eddie Felson for Robert Rossen's "The Hustler." Originally he had a contract to star in the movie "Two for the Seesaw" with Elizabeth Taylor after "Paris Blues" wrapped. But Taylor was working on "Cleopatra" at the moment and that movie was going into overruns with the photography and required her to stay on longer. This meant Newman was free to take the role of Fast Eddie Felson in "The Hustler" (Robert Mitchum and Shirley MacLaine ended up being cast for "Seesaw.")

I was going to include this image in my posts about the nightly projections at Perpignan, but it didn't seem to show enough context. I'm glad I took the picture with my Leica and not my low-res cellphone camera. It's just a cool thought to think about a young Paul Newman playing a cool cat--surrounded by and working with the coolest cool cats ever, living legends Armstrong and Ellington--even before he was cast as the coolest silver screen cat of them all (at least in my book), Fast Eddie Felson. There is a long list of Paul Newman's movies that I haven't seen. And while "Paris Blues" doesn't seem to have attained the mythical status as some of his other roles, I think "Paris Blues" might just have to go to the top of my list.


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