Oct 23, 2008

I Heart Valley Art

In the wake of Paul Newman's September 26th death at the age of 83, my sentiment at his passing has been piqued by the rush of remembrances that poured from a myriad of sources: contemporaries and cohorts, filmmakers and fans, beneficiaries and bloggers alike have sung the praises of the humble Ohian-cum-silver screen star whose ingenuity in his later years became the prosperity he diffused to innumerable worthy causes.

But amongst all the positive press Paul's life received, little has been mentioned of his screen legacy - and understandably so, in light of his charitable work and how he valued it, far above his film contributions. As an ardent classic cinema fan, though, I feel his Luke and his Ben Quick, his Hud and his Hombre (okay, maybe not Hombre) are worth more than a fond farewell acknowledgment in his many obituaries. This was evidently a sentiment shared by my local Harkins Valley Art Cinema, as they recently hosted a week-long, multiple-film retrospective in Paul's honor, which I was fortunate enough to attend.

Valley Art, the oldest theatre in the state, provided a sumptuously antique feel for late-night big screen viewings of some of Paul's most popular films, including Cool Hand Luke (1967), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), and 1961's gritty The Hustler. As someone who had never reveled in the grandiose spectacle of silver screen stars in such sizable glory, to witness Newman the actor - thoughtful, passionate, impossibly Adonis-like - was to see his film presence finally in proportion to his personal and social legacy: larger than life.

Harkins Valley Art donated all proceeds from the festival, more than $3,000, to Newman's Painted Turtle Camp, a multi-disease camp and family care center based in California.

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