Paul and Joanne Mismatched
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward – happily wed from January 29, 1958 until his death on September 26, 2008 – often played romantically attracted couples, married and otherwise, though always adult, on screen eight times: The Long, Hot Summer and Rally ’Round the Flag, Boys! (both 1958), Paris Blues (1961), A New Kind of Love (1963), Winning (1969), The Drowning Pool (1975), Harry & Son (1984) and Mr. & Mrs. Bridge (1990). Adjusting for the later era in which they appeared, it could be said that they followed as a team in the tradition of Bogart and Bacall or Tracy and Hepburn, sometimes at odds, sometimes passionate, sometimes scheming, but always mutually comfortable and wittily playful. Another film they shared, with one year of marriage under their belt, showed them as swank and glamorous but flinty and finally corrosive mates, the Cinemascope/Deluxe Color John O’Hara adaptation From the Terrace, a Top-10 box-office hit of 1960 that opened 56 years ago this week. Because it originated with O’Hara, there was an element of exposing the rot underneath the richness, with the career ambitions of a World War II veteran and business and social climber (Newman) resulting in a marriage to a sexpot socialite (Woodward) that chilled early on, just as his dealings in the corporate world meandered over to the shady side. Woodward broadened her already versatile screen image playing the alcoholic, straying wife who comes to symbolize all that is wrong with his life choices. Since audiences were starting to get a feel for the couple’s chemistry after their first two films, it was a bold departure that would fortify the actress’s formidable reputation. Newman’s preference for a less privileged “good girl” (screen newcomer Ina Balin) was a genuine surprise to audiences. More floridly melodramatic than an exacting adaptation of O’Hara’s socially critical prose, the film (adapted by Hollywood ace Ernest Lehman) retained enough sting as a commentary on then-contemporary relationships, and the production itself so plushly appointed and vibrantly acted by the leads and an ensemble of veterans (Myrna Loy, Leon Ames, Felix Aylmer) and new talents (Patrick O’Neal, George Grizzard, Elizabeth Allen) under the direction of Mark Robson (Peyton Place, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness) that its lengthy (144 minutes) plot machinations went by quickly. It harkens back to a time when summer was a hospitable time for movies appealing to grownups. With Elmer Bernstein’s romantic and beautifully orchestrated score on an Isolated Track, you can enjoy the view From the Terrace of the Newman/Woodward teamwork in its delicious, ambitious prime – portraying a rare mismatched mating that doesn't end happily – on Twilight Time’s gorgeous hi-def Blu-ray.