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Film as Art: Paul Newman in ‘The Verdict’

On September 27,2009 Paul Newman, an American movie icon passed away. I will best remember him for his performance in "The Verdict" because I met him personally on location in Boston.

On September 27th of this year, Paul Newman, actor and philanthropist, died of lung cancer at the age of 83. I will best remember him for his performance in "The Verdict," because I met him personally on location in Boston.

During the filming of "The Verdict" (released in 1982) I was living south of Boston and commuted by Amtrak to work. I arrived at South Station one morning and saw the filming of a movie, which I knew nothing about. (If you’ve seen the movie you will remember the part where a paid witness, a black doctor, arrives by Amtrak train and Paul Newman meets him upon arrival in Boston.)

The next scene is shot at the former front entrance to South Station. Frank Galvin (the lawyer played by Paul Newman) puts the doctor in a cab and makes a phone call on the outside pay phone. The building has since been expanded and the graffiti shown no longer exists.

A fellow Amtrak passenger told me that Mr. Newman was a private person and didn’t like signing autographs. As I walked through South Station to exit out the other side, as chance would have it, Paul Newman and I were walking side by side; I introduced myself and shook his gloved hand.

He was probably memorizing his next lines but he was cordial and said hello. I’ll never forget his piercing blue eyes. Like other Hollywood stars I have seen in person, he was shorter than I imagined. I suppose it is because we are led to think of celebrities as "bigger than life."

Boston is certainly no stranger to blockbuster movies. In 1968 "The Thomas Crown Affair" with Steve McQueen was released. It was filmed in Boston (the heist was filmed in the Financial District). This other handsome blue-eyed actor actually lived in Boston at 85 Mt. Vernon Street.

Other great films, including "A Civil Action" (1998), "Mystic River" (2003) and "The Departed" (2006) would gross millions of dollars, being filmed in Boston and surrounding areas.

Film is certainly an art form and it can be appreciated as well as any painting. I admired Paul Newman for his contribution to the magic of Hollywood and to humanity in general.

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