I was never very impressed by Paul Newman when I was growing up. I thought he was a pretty boy actor with insufficient chops. That all changed in 1982, when I saw The Verdict, moodily directed by Sidney Lumet and with a great screenplay by David Mamet. The movie takes place in
And Newman is nothing less than heartbreaking in it. Somehow, in the decade since he’d done Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid and The Sting, he had acquired some lines on his face and a profound weariness. It’s like he didn’t care what the world thought of him anymore. He had done a pretty good job in the previous year’s Absence of Malice, but his co-star in that movie, Sally Field, was just out of her depth and I found that very distracting. But in The Verdict, Newman as alcoholic, down-on-his-luck ambulance chaser attorney Frank Galvan, owns the whole movie, and when you’re up against Jack Warden, James Mason, and Charlotte Rampling, that’s no mean feat.
So what better way to honor the passing of one of this country’s greatest actors than by watching him at the top of his game? This is a movie that will slowly warm you from the inside out, like a tumbler full of whiskey.
(Please to ignore foreign subtitles. This is the only vid of this scene I could find.)