“I can’t remember who won the Academy Award that year,” murmurs Sidney Lumet on the commentary. “Whoever won it, Paul was robbed.” No kidding, Sid. The Oscar that year went to Ben Kingsley for Gandhi. Sir Ben’s good and all, but there’s something truly awesome about the muddy depths that Newman digs down to in order to unearth depressed, alcoholic Frank Galvin, the lawyer seeking redemption through a malpractice lawsuit. Lumet’s elegant direction and David Mamet’s pared-to-the- bone script do some of the work, but the bulk of the heavy dramatic lifting in this 1982 tale of courtroom redemption is in the play of emotions across Newman’s craggy features. Few other stars have ever had the guts to sink to this whisky-soaked low.
He’s less value on the commentary though. Despite being heavily billed as a Lumet/ Newman two-hander, it’s Sidney who dominates. His contribution to the chat track is a proper scene-by-scene commentary, gushing a bit too much in his praise of everyone but shaping up as an affable and intelligent host. And Newman? Well, he’s present for just over a minute and a half: his generic recollections of the shoot start playing 109 minutes and 18 seconds into the movie. He’s finished long before the digitimer gets to 111 minutes.
The smattering of featurettes on the second disc are standard, decent fare, but nothing can salve the disappointment of that chat-track con job. The Verdict? Guilty of false advertising.