Paul Newman: A Biography

Eric Lax, Author
Eric Lax, Author Turner Publications Inc $29.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-57036-286-6
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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The life of one of Hollywood's most enduring stars gets a quick once-over in this coffee-table biography. The most attractive feature of the book is the array of dozens of handsomely reproduced photographs, many in color, of Newman at various stages of his career. Most of the photos are publicity shots or production stills, with only a few family shots, but they provide a thorough record of the progress of one of the most startlingly handsome faces in film. Although it relies too heavily on synopses of Newman's movies and on quotes from reviews, Lax's (Woody Allen) text is smooth, informative and occasionally insightful, especially on the appeal of the wounded characters for which Newman is best known: ""Fast Eddie"" Felson in The Hustler, Hud, ""Sully"" Sullivan in Nobody's Fool. The account of Newman the man is superficial, however, though perhaps necessarily so, since the star is notoriously one of the most private men in show business. Nonetheless, the best moments in the text come from Newman himself, in tough-minded quotes from earlier interviews and from a long interview with Lax in which the star, now 71, is revealed as a gruffly charming and self-deprecating raconteur--still, after all these years, his own toughest critic. Though the book seems aimed at hard-core Newman fans, it also serves as a reminder, especially to younger folk, that there's a history to the face that has launched so many bottles of spaghetti sauce and salad dressing. (Sept.)
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