The Last Movie Star, or: how Newman's death represents the impending close to a great era

From James over at ReelThoughts:
With Paul Newman's death, they're almost all gone. By "they," I am referring to the movie stars - the legends of the silver screen whose images lit up the darkness for decades in movie palaces, drive-ins, and multiplexes across the country and around the world. Their names are legendary: Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Steve McQueen, Bette Davis, Marlon Brando, Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, Gene Kelly, Paul Newman. There are, of course, many others, but a need for brevity demands that I stop somewhere. Newman's death is another reminder how few of these "great ones" remain among us, their memories living capsules to a fading era. Kirk Douglas, Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, Sidney Poitier� Are there others? (Of course, but not as many as you might think.)

We don't have movie stars anymore. At least not in the way there once were movie stars. Today, the biggest names in cinema are media stars. The mystique is gone. Film has become just another form of disposable entertainment. In 2008, we have Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts, and countless here-today-gone-tomorrow flavors of the month. All are photogenic and capable, but none has the luminescence we associate with a true star. It's not their fault. Time moves on and eras change. Movies are not what they were in the '40s or '50s or '60s or even '70s. The capacity of a performer to become a star in the truest sense of the word no longer exists. People still love movies, but they don't treasure them the way they once did. Norma Desmond said it's the pictures that got small. Now, the magnitude of the stars has downsized to keep pace.

Read more here.

I'm not much for writing goodbyes. There are many others out there who are infinitely more knowledgeable about Paul Newman's career and his influence on the American cinema. But Mr. Berardinelli manages to write a fitting epitaph not to Paul Newman, but to all the movie stars of a far gone era.

And thanks to Steve for being more eloquent and classy than I could ever hope to be.



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