Friday, 28 May 2010

Best Actor 1958: Paul Newman in A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Paul Newman received his first Oscar nomination for playing Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a somewhat strange adaptation  of Tennessee Williams' play, because it is basically a repressed film about repression, since it was a heavily censored version of the play.

This censorship most heavily effected Paul Newman character since the movie could never exactly say who he really was and what he really was. Newman though never really lets that hurt his performance though. Newman always shows what is not said by the script well, although I wonder how his performance would have been like if the play had not be altered at all.

Paul Newman begins with not really doing much at all, and is just drinking and turning away and everyone. He just continues to reject everyone and everything including his wife Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor). He makes only short responses, and turns away from her advances. Newman does this for a long period until Maggie talks about Skipper to Brick. Brick finally changes his facade, and yells at her to stop mentioning Skipper. Newman does a fine job showing Brick's frustrations and anger, at the death of Skipper.

Brick though basically tries to revert back to his ignoring until Big Daddy (Burl Ives) begins to question Brick too. The whole long confrontation between Brick and Big Daddy is handled very well by Newman and Ives. Both show the characters' histories exceptionally well, and their conflict shows some of the strongest moments in Newman's performance. Such as when he is not allowed a drink by Big Daddy he makes it clear that Brick needs the alcohol badly. Also  Newman shows his character regrets perfectly especially Brick's regrets involving Skipper's death. His best scene though is probably when he breakdown in front of Big Daddy, telling how he cares about love more than things. Overall Newman gives a strong performance despite some hindrances involving the script.  He shows the pains of the character, and tries his best to show the hidden side of the character, made hidden by the script changes.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm, probably a 4.5/5 for me.

joe burns said...

Wow, I thought this would be a five! I guess I was wrong! I think your ranking will be:

1. Curtis

2. Niven

3. Newman

4. Poiter

5. Tracy

Louis Morgan said...

Sage Slowdive: 4 seemed right to me.