Movie Reviews

DVD Review: “The Paul Newman Film Series”

(Warner Home Video; movies released separately.) The Silver Chalice (1954, Color, 142 minutes, Not Rated, directed by Victor Saville). The Helen Morgan Story (1957, B&W, 118 minutes, Not Rated, Michael Curtiz). The Outrage (1964, B&W, 97 minutes, Not Rated, Martin Ritt). Rachel, Rachel (1968, Color, Paul Newman). When Time Ran Out (1980, Color, 109 minutes, Rated PG, Color, James Goldstone).

Warners continues its Newman survey with 5 more titles, all new to DVD. Chalice was Newman’s inauspicious film debut; opposite the top-billed Virginia Mayo, he played a 1st-century Greek sculptor who creates a replica of the chalice Jesus used at the Last Supper. Several years later, after he was a star, he would reportedly turn down the lead role in Ben-Hur because he didn’t want to do a “toga role” again. Morgan has Ann Blyth (in her last role) playing the real-life troubled ’20s singing star. Newman is second-billed as a con-man boyfriend but comes off as too young yet for that sort of part. The real standout is pop singer Gogi Grant, who dubs Blyth’s musical numbers.

Outrage is a curio with Newman playing a Mexican bandido (yes, you heard me) who’s accused of attacking a traveling English couple (Claire Bloom and Laurence Harvey), raping the wife and murdering the husband. But did things really happen that way? Inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s classic Rashomon, which is a better movie if you’ve seen it. Still, this is worth a look at least for James Wong Howe’s stunning black-and-white cinematography (gorgeous scenes at the train depot), as well as supporting turns by always-entertaining Edward G. Robinson and yes, William Shatner. Rachel is Newman’s first (and probably best) turn as a director; wife Joanne Woodward stars as a spinster schoolteacher staring at middle age when a childhood friend re-enters her life and shakes up her placid existence. Nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture. Time marked the end of producer Irwin Allen’s ’70s reign as the “Master of Disaster.” A volcano threatens a Pacific Island, but the only thing that really erupts is your patience at watching this Towering Inferno retread. The required “all-star cast” (Newman, not helped by Jacqueline Bisset, William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Edward Albert, Red Buttons, and remember Veronica Hamel?) doesn’t save this one.