Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward remembered in new HBO docuseries

There were many remarkable things about old-time movie stars Newman and Woodward, including their long-lasting enviable marriage. I always found them most interesting because they seemed so unaffected by their lives in the spotlight.

John Anderson of the Wall Street Journal takes a look at HBO’s new docuseries about the couple.

Among the many inspired, even wondrous choices made by Ethan Hawke in “The Last Movie Stars” is opening with a clip from “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge.” Adapted from two novels by Evan S. Connell, the 1990 Merchant-Ivory production starred Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in one of the 16 films the couple made together, and sets them up the same way Mr. Hawke’s documentary series frames them over its six episodes: Newman, even at age 65, seizes the screen, as he had for most of his career. But Ms. Woodward is the subtler artist, delivering a performance of such delicacy that Oscar watchers were probably shocked that she received a Best Actress nomination at all. (And then lost, predictably, to Kathy Bates for “Misery,” thus setting the universe back on its axis.)

The title of the series, originally planned for the defunct CNN+, comes from a quote about the couple by Gore Vidal: “They presided over the end of the movies as the universal art form”—cinema having been overtaken by TV—“so I think people will think of them as the last movie stars.” The soundness of such a statement hinges on one’s definition of stardom, but Mr. Hawke’s premise is that the Newman-Woodward partnership, off-screen and on, survived—with grace—the demise of a Hollywood system that had existed since the ’20s, and on which they themselves had, professionally speaking, grown up.

The director has a remarkable resource at his disposal: Newman, who died in 2008, had begun a memoir with screenwriter Stewart Stern (“Rebel Without a Cause,” “Rachel, Rachel”), and they had recorded interviews with scores of people who had worked with the actor, or lived with him, or without him. Then Newman apparently burned the cassettes—but not before, as Mr. Hawke reveals in a “ta-dah!” moment, Mr. Stern had had them transcribed.

HBO seems to have developed the better eye for interesting subjects than has Netflix, Prime Video or any of the others. I may have to spring for a subscription.

You can read the rest of the WSJ article here.

BTW I did not know that Joanne Woodward is still alive and kicking in Westport, CT. Newman died in 2008.

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman.

Boston guy harasses neo-Nazis who marched on the city

I spent most of my life in Boston and it’s a sad truth that the city has more than its share of loud-mouthed racist white guys, especially from some of the more MAGA suburbs and from central and western Mass.

But what you will also find, as you will see in this video, are loud-mouthed white guys willing to taunt a bunch of cowardly Proud Boy neo-Nazis who decided to march on Boston wearing masks.


What is going on in San Francisco?

The rejection of a progressive district attorney and the recall of progressive school board members suggests that even in liberal true-blue bastions, as this San Francisco writer suggests in The Atlantic, there are limits to Democratic voters’ support for radical changes tied to a racial reckoning:

The San Francisco School Board recently returned the admissions policy at Lowell, the city’s most prestigious public high school, to the merit-based system that it had used for more than a century. Thus ended a short-lived lottery introduced in the name of racial equity. The board also abandoned a campaign to erase “The Life of Washington,” a WPA-era mural at George Washington High School by the artist Victor Arnautoff. Arnautoff was a Communist, and his mural, which depicts slaves picking cotton at Mount Vernon, was intentionally subversive. But an earlier incarnation of the board had voted first to destroy it, then to cover it up, saying that removing it from view was a form of “reparations.” The board member Alison Collins had said, “This mural is not historic. It is a relic.”

These two decisions, both 4–3 votes, represent a double rejection by the current board of the hypersensitive poses adopted by its predecessor. When you factor in the 2021 collapse of the infamous school-renaming campaign, it’s a trifecta. Our deep-blue city seems to have grown weary of the more radical elements of the new racial-justice movement. And although this story is specific to San Francisco, if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.

You can read the rest here.

The San Francisco school board’s plan to cover up or paint over this mural at the George Washington High School was only one of the flash points that brought about the recall campaign that saw three of the board’s most liberal members lose their seats.