Saturday, April 7, 2007

Cool Hand Luke

Cool Hand Luke.
Made in 1967.
Lucas "Luke" Jackson. Had to be a lot of newborn males named Lucas, after this Hollywood hit.

In the 1966-67 National Basketball Association season, the Philadelphia 76ers (Wilt, Hal Greer, Chet Walker, Wali Jones, Billy Cunningham, Dave Gambee, Larry Costello, Matt Goukas and Bob Weiss) defeated the Cincinnati Royals (Oscar Robertson, Jerry Lucas, Adrian Smith, Connie Dierking, Happy Hairston, Jon McGlocklin, Bob Love and Flynn Robinson), Boston Celtics (Bill Russell, Sam Jones, John Havlicek, Bailey Howell and a young Don Nelson), and the San Francisco Warriors, coached by Bill Sharman (Rick Barry, Nate Thurmond, Jeff Mullins, Tom Meschery, Clyde Lee, Alvin Attles and Jumpin' Joe Ellis) to win the NBA Championship title.

On the 76ers was a forward/center named Lucious "Luke" Jackson.
On the Warriors was a forward/center named Paul Neumann.

Cool Hand Luke. Isn't that the coolest name ever? To get this role you have to be a model. Someone the Hollywood industry feels is good for its image. Someone like Paul Newman.

I mention this because he's who I see, first thing, when I flip on my television to the movie channel. I get a Western. Hombre. (Just so happens this was the only other film Newman made in 1967. Had to look up history of Paul Newman to find the title.) Hombre was filmed in Santa Susana, California. Although, in my mind's eye, it was roughly 60 miles from a place I think of as heaven on earth: Scottsdale, Arizona.

Paul Newman as John Russell.
Barbara Rush as Audra Favor
Fredric March as Dr. Alex Favor
Cameron Mitchell as Braden.....Richard Boone as CiceroGrimes. Grimes was a character played by Boone splendidly enough to make one think he had a good shot at capturing "supporting actor" that year at the Oscars.
Diane Cilento as Jessie (hot redhead)
Margaret Blye as Doris Blake (hot blonde)
Peter Lazer as Billy Lee Blake
Martin Balsam as Mendez (had to be the worst latino-played by a gringo- ever on celluloid)
David Canary as Lamar Dean
Val Avery as Delgado (a part that was so masterful, Marty Balsam's Mendez almost seemed classic)
Frank Silvera as mexican bandit. He no say much, senor. But if you see this guy walking by you immediately think, bandito.

The cool Paul Newman portrayed, in 100 degree weather, is matchless. This movie was good stuff. I mean I laughed at the seriousness of everything and then choked up a bit at Newman's quick-drawled responses. Amorously smooth yet biting was the tone in Newman's voice that sent me into a tizzy by way of the laughs. (The Laughs are those times when, for some reason, everything looks so serious its nutty time and I'm gasping while grasping for my ribs.)

He was in Slapshot, a cult favorite for hockey fans with the Rocky Horror Show-type following. Was in several (more than a few) boxing flicks (Somebody Up There Likes Me..the Rocky Graziano Story), shot pool with Jackie Gleason, played poker in the Sting and has driven fast cars.

Why not baseball?

America's pastime should think the way Hollywood did in 1967. The industry picked Robert Redford for the Natural (Sundance Kid) but haven't offered Paul Newman (Butch Cassidy) a film he could make work.

Newman's wife, Joanne Woodward, is the cousin of former shortstop Woody Woodward. (The same Woody Woodward who, in 1968, was traded with Tony Cloniger, and Clay Carroll to the Cincinnati Reds for Milt Pappas, Bob Johnson and Teddy Davidson). Woodward was later a general manager for the Seattle Mariners in 1998 and 1999, so you would think there are ties to the Major Leagues.

Who has access to the best library of historical baseball photos? This person should be flipping through page after page to find someone who looks similar to Paul Newman because Mister Paul needs to be in a baseball classic before the proverbial bucket is kicked.