Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Run Time: 123 long minutes
Director: James Goldstone
Cast: Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Richard Thomas, Richard Wagner
The most important thing I learned from watching the movie Winning, is that in addition to being one of Hollywood's most beloved sex symbols, Paul Newman must also be an all around great guy.
My reason for saying this will come off as very shallow, but I suppose I'm past that point. There is one reason I say this, and he name is Joanne Woodward. When this movie was made, both Newman and Woodward were a bit past their primes. However, while Paul ripened with age and gained the textures and accents of a fine wine, Ms. Woodward started to look like a wilty pumpkin. Seeing them on screen as a pair is pretty jarring, and it is even stranger when you are reminded that they are a couple in real life. I'm no I'm perpetuating misogyny by saying this, but you just don't see men as attractive as Paul Newman paired with women as average and old looking as Woodward in today's movies. Mr. Newman has got to be a pretty loving feminist man to not have pulled a Pitt on his so-so looking wife and found a woman who looks like she was created by Madame Tussaud.
In what plays out like a suburban housewife's fantasy, Woodward is swept off her feet by Newman, who is a race car driver who spots her in the window of the car rental facility she works out. They rush into a whirlwind marriage, and he even adopts her queeny son. The Movie of the Week takes a bitter turn when Newman's career gets in the way, and, of all things, Woodward starts two-timing him with the less attractive Richard Wagner. The couple deicides to seperate after this.
Up until the point when Newman catches Woodward and Wagner in the adulterous tryst, there are numerous moments when many men stare Ms. Woodward down and tell her she's beautiful. While she certainly isn't ugly, the extent to which men comment on her attractiveness is pretty absurd. Ms. Woodward is more worn out and maternal than fresh and coquettish. When she cheats on her stud of a husband, it is laugh out loud funny. It is true that there are many women who aren't particularly beautiful in the classic sense, but who are able wrap lovers around her finger. Ms Woodward's character is just not that sort of woman.
It should also be noted that Woodward and Newman don't have much on screen chemistry here. This sometimes happens when real-life couples star in movies together. However Newman does have chemistry with one other character in the movie, and it is none other than Richard Thomas. John Boy from the Waltons plays Woodward's son, who daintily prances into Newman's heart. The boy seems to fall in love with Newman right off the bat. More scenes of innuendo follow, including a scene where Newman seems to be receiving a phantom blow job, while Thomas is sprawled out on the bed in the background. The ultimate moment of romance in the movie is the scene in the auto body shop, which features Thomas straddling the hood of a car and winking at Newman. If you are a fan of thinly veiled gay subtext, you'll surely get a kick out of this.
Overall, Winning is an absurd drama. It is mostly unengaging, but there are some moments of absurdity to make up for this. Paul Newman, who loved car racing in real life, really wanted to get this movie made. However, despite the scenes with Richard Thomas, and one inexplicable psychedellic sequence towards the finale, Winning does not have much passion in it at all.