I woke up this morning with bookworm brain, which is not a bad thing at all.
Running through my mind was the first (and last) lines of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I don't have a copy of the book, so I must paraphrase. Ponyboy says that he has two things on his mind: Paul Newman and a ride home from the movie theater. Right after that, he gets jumped by the evil Socs, and Paul Newman is forgotten.
I first read this book in 7th grade and went on to read it many more times. Like most of my early reads, I internalized the book, but even though I love movies almost as much as I love books, it never occurred to me to wonder which Paul Newman movie Ponyboy had just seen. Somewhere out there in the world are stay-gold devotees of the novel that have probably gathered every last obsessive detail about the setting, the plot, and the characters. Perhaps the question has already been answered, but that's not going to stop me from playing detective.
Since The Outsiders was published in 1967, I assume that the time frame is current. I'm also trying to put myself in a Greaser state of mind and try to think which Paul Newman movie would have impressed Ponyboy so much that he wasn't mindful of the danger around him.
I wish so hard that it had been Cool Hand Luke, but I don't think so, because both appeared the same year. The Hustler came out in 1961, and that's too early because Ponyboy refers to The Beatles often, which means the novel is set after 1963. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid came out at the other end of the decade, and that would have been too late. That means that it was probably Harper, a movie in which Newman plays a smooth private eye.
Now I need to get a copy of The Outsiders and see if I can figure out which movie Two-Bit, Johnny, Ponyboy and Cherry Valance (and Dally, briefly) saw a few nights later. I remember they went to the movies and Bob, the nastiest Soc, was a malevolent presence, but what was the movie?
I'm off to the library with a side trip to the store for some microwave popcorn.
From S.E. Hinton herself, via Twitter: Hud.
Hud! 1963. Paul Newman is the title character, a dissolute younger son of a rancher. I didn't even consider this movie, because he plays such an unsympathetic character, but by Greaser standards, Hud is both tough and tuff. As Ponyboy points out, both are compliments.