It touched me when I read somewhere that NOBODY'S FOOL was Newman's favorite film. Those words mean a lot when you consider the likes of COOL HAND LUKE and the rest.
It's my favorite Newman flick too.
Someone in another blog asked me why I identified so heavily with Sully. Knowing is one thing; explaining it to other people is a different matter. I'm giving it a shot here, but I'm also curious about others who identify with this fascinating character.
Sully cared about everyday people, the powerless. He carried a load of emotional pain--symbolized by his injured knee--but instead of letting his pain defeat him, it seems to have sensitized him to the needs and struggles of others.
He was fearless, spoke truth to power and took the consequences.
Every day, he was a loving friend and his love was returned by the townspeople.
He was old and weary in body--symbolized by his old broken-down pickup--but world wise and willing, intent even, to share what he believed important. This was brilliantly expressed in the scene where Sully gives his grandson a pocket watch and explains how to be brave. Even his blunt face-to-face criticisms of Roebuck seemed to be cloaked with the loving intent of making a better person of the younger man.
There are two basic kinds of people in this world--those who like things shiny new and perfect and those who see the value concealed in the flaws that inevitably appear. Sully appreciates the latter and is no slave to the former. Mrs. Beryl's broken railing wasn't merely a chore; it was a link between her and Sully that allowed him to show is love for her and for her to show hers in choosing him to fix it, with no reciprocity involved.
There were dozens of these loving exchanges between Sully and the townspeople throughout the story, like when Sully helped the demented grandmother get back to the diner, walking sock-footed in the snow and ice; then substituting still sock-footed for her daughter at the diner where she waitressed while she attended to her mother.
Like Sully, I had a rotten childhood and it sensitized instead of hardening me. I see honor in the overlooked heroisms of everyday working class struggle. I see love where others are repelled by poverty. I had a rocky marriage but raised successful children. I don't allow money to control my life but am optimistic about the outlook for financial comfort.
(This is all based on the film. The book is on my reading list. I'm sure it will hold up to my expectations after reading EMPIRE FALLS. By the way, EF was Newman's last film, just as NF was Jessica Tandy's. What great tributes to Richard Russo.)
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