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May 14, 2013

A New Kind of Love

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Melville Shavelson - 1963
Paramount Pictures Region 1 DVD

If you haven't seen the poster for this year's edition of the Cannes Film Festival, I'm including it here at the bottom of this post. It was a publicity shot of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward shot during the production of A New Kind of Love. A similar image was used for the movie's poster, also included here, probably using that photo as a guide. It's a great photo. It's also one of those rare images still looks fresh. If you didn't know who was in the photo, it might be hard to guess that it was photographed fifty years ago. It's also an image that's not in the movie.

You want to see a hip movie with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in Paris? That would be Paris Blues with Newman and Sidney Poitier as expatriate jazzbos, under the direction of Martin Ritt. Even the New York Times' Bosley Crowthers concluded, "Mr. Shavelson and his hardworking troupe and cameraman have strained mightily but their New Kind of Love is hardly new and only fitfully funny or farcial." And time has not made this film look any better than it did in 1963.

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The bright spot is Joanne Woodward in the first half of the film. As the "designer" of knock-off couture for a New York City department store, Woodward with her short hair, masculine suits, cap and sunglasses rocks the androgynous look so well that Tilda Swinton should watch this movie, and take a few notes. Woodward is much sexier here than when she finally succumbs to appearing more traditionally feminine as a means of turning around her life as a "semi-virgin". And if some of the comedy here doesn't make you groan, there's the premise that a successful professional life notwithstanding, it's every woman's goal to get married.

The rest of A New Kind of Love offers a tourist's view of Paris and French culture. Having Maurice Chevalier appear to sing and dance excerpts of his greatest hits solidifies this as a Hollywood version of France. Character actor Marvin Kaplan, as a Paris based American Journalist, offers some genuinely amusing moments. Otherwise, much of what passes for humor is often smarmy. It doesn't help that as keeping with the production code of the time, there are a couple of scenes in a strip club which reveal no more skin than can be seen in a movie like Bikini Beach. There is the brief exception with a strip tease involving an umbrella that glows in the dark. The topical humor is so dated that I'm certain anyone under the age of fifty will be asking, "Who's Huntley Brinkley?".

With all the stories about the Cannes poster, I have yet to see anyone mention the name of the original photographer. Sure, the image was redone for the festival, but the guy who was on Paramount's payroll should get his due. I don't know of anyone who has seen the poster who doesn't love it. If anything, this is a reminder about why film scholarship is more than trivial pursuit - even a forgettable movie can be the source for one unforgettable image.

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Posted by peter at May 14, 2013 08:13 AM