Saturday, June 21, 2008

An Anniversary to Celebrate

In this year that marks the 40th anniversaries of all the big — usually tragic — events of 1968, it's nice to be able to encourage the celebration of a good, even uplifting anniversary.

Even if it is in the world of entertainment.

The anniversary to which I refer is not a 40th anniversary — not yet. It's actually a 35th anniversary.

In 1973, "The Sting," starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, was made. I'm not sure of the exact date it was released theatrically, but it won several Oscars when the awards were given out in early 1974 — including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Writing — and Best Score, for Marvin Hamlisch's delightful adaptation of Scott Joplin's ragtime music.

Sadly, the news this month is that Newman, now 83 years old, is battling cancer. Reports have been mixed and, at times, contradictory, but the Associated Press reported on June 11 that Newman's partner in his salad dressing business, writer A.E. Hotchner, had confirmed what The Daily Telegraph reported on June 9 — that Newman is seriously ill.

All the more reason to watch "The Sting."

Newman was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in "The Sting." He didn't win, although he went on to win the Oscar for Best Actor for "The Color of Money" in 1986.

But that takes nothing away from Newman's work in "The Sting." Many people, myself included, rate his work in "The Sting" among the finest of his distinguished career.

Fifty years ago, Newman was the recipient of the Cannes Film Festival's Best Actor award for "The Long, Hot Summer." He's been entertaining audiences since 1954, but he announced his retirement from acting in 2007.

Whether his retirement coincided with his learning of his condition is, for the moment, a matter for speculation.

Obviously, when a person has reached the age Newman has, anything can happen — whether or not the reports of cancer are true.

So I urge you to take a couple of hours of your time, watch "The Sting" and reflect on Newman's magnificent career while he's still alive.

If you've never seen "The Sting" before, you're entitled to a few words of warning:

If you watch the film and, when it's over, you think that someone slipped something past you, don't worry. It happens to everyone!

Just watch the movie a second time to pick up on whatever you missed. And don't be surprised if you find yourself humming the Scott Joplin tunes.

I envy the pleasure of the discovery that awaits you!

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