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April 02, 1993 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-04-02

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David Newman asks,

'Why is this man laughing?'

by Alison J. Levy
David Newman is most likely the
only man who has ever made Warren
Beatty impotent. Even with his credits
as aDaily film columnist, Esquire jour-
nalist, premiere phrase-maker, screen-
writer and director, this is quite possibly
his greatest achievement.
Don't get the wrong idea. It was
Newman's screenplay (co-written with
Robert Benton) for the famous "Bonnie
and Clyde" which turned Warren into a
luke-warm lover onscreen. "Thatwasa
great compromise, believe me,"
Newman said recently. "We only ar-
rived at that because in the original, in
the first draft, (Clyde) was supposed to
be bisexual and Warren didn't want to
have anything to do with that." To
research the film, Newman traveled to
EastTexas and metpeople who knew of
the outlaw couple. C.W. Moss (Michael
J. Pollard), the chauffeur/accomplice in
the film is actually acomposite of seven
and Clyde usually recruited one of them
for a menage a trois. According to
Newman, Warren said, "You're not
gonna be seein' me in bed with them
likethat."And, directorArthurPenn felt
thataudiences would think itwas Clyde's
bisexuality which drove him to kill. So,
they compromised.
But it wasn't the impotence in
"Bonnie and Clyde" that bothered
people when the controversial film was
released in 1967. It was the violence. At
the time, New York Tunes film critic
Bosley Crowther couldn't handle the
film and eventually lost his job due to
his scathing reviews. Said Newman, "It

drove him crazy." One critic actually
panned the film calling it "sub-mo-
ronic" for "sub-humans" and one week
later printed a retraction, dubbing the
movie, "a masterpiece." Newman has
his own theories on why the film was so
unsettling. "What upset a lot of people
was the juxtaposition of humor and
violence...You're having a good time
with (Bonnie and Clyde) and suddenly
they blow someone's head off."
But the violence in "Bonnie and
Clyde" was more than just a neat aes-
thetic technique or a hook to sell ten
extra tickets. "One of the points we
were trying to make back then was that
Bonnie and Clyde, as we imagined them,
were stylistically rebels and that was
moreoffensive to mainstreamAmerica,"
commented Newman, "as it (still) is
now."Thefilm, released at the heightof
the counterculture, paralleled the domi-
nant themes of the era. "It was the
underground, as much as the under-
world, that we wanted to talk about," he
Speaking of underground, Newman
also visited the graves of Bonnie Parker
and Clyde Barrow on his fact-finding
trip. Clyde's is overgrown with weeds
and vines, while Bonnie's is keptnicely
in an elite cemetary. Upon her head-
stone is one of her poems: "As the
flowers are made sweeter by the sun-
shine and the dew / So this world is
made much brighter by thelikesof folks
like you." Newman chuckles as he calls
it "A Hallmark greeting card by Bonnie
Parker," and it's just one of the many
poems she penned, including "The B al-
lad of Bonnie and Clyde" in which she

eerily prophesizes theirdeaths. The film
also launched the careers of relative
unknowns Faye Dunaway, Gene Hack-
man, Gene Wilder, and Michael J. Pol-
Newman met writing partner Rob-
ert Benton while they both worked at
Esquire. The collaborative team
develloped the infamous "Dubious
AchievementAwards," still atime-hon-
ored tradition. After "Bonnie and
Clyde," they went on to write other
'One of the points we
were trying to make
back then was that
Bonnie and Clyde, as
we imagined them,
were stylistically rebels
and that was more
offensive to
mainstream America,'
-David Newman
films like "What's Up Doc?", "There
Was A Crooked Man," "Still of the
Night" and a cult favorite, "Bad Com-
pany." Newman also made a valuable
contribution to the English language
with the recognizable phrase, "Why is
this man laughing?" to compliment an-
nual photos of Richie Nixon.
His satire of the President was not
the extentof Newman's political ties. In
the late fifties, he worked alongside
fellow Daily staffer and New Left hero,
Tom Hayden. He bumped into the ac-
tivist in the streets of New York the
morning after Lyndon Johnson an-

nounced that he wasn't going to run
again. According to Newman, Hayden
"was with like six of his cronies. They
were all wearing fatigues (and) caps
that Fidel Castro had given them.
(Hayden) said 'I have to know which
way through the streets the people are
running, so I can get in front of them so
they're following me."'
Another relationship Newman
formed while attheUniversity was with
his wife Leslie. He met the brunette-
ponytailed beauty on the corner of
Maynard and Williams one October.
They were introduced by a friend and
Newman was smitten. Soon they co-
habitated over the Campus bike shop,
which Newman calls, "very scandalous
in those days." However, the couple got
their own place when the roomate thing
got to be a problem. He says, "We were
the black stocking, turtleneck sweater-
wearing, poetry-writing beatniks." But,
no goatee. The whole thing would be
perfectly nauseating ifNewman weren't
so sincere.
The Newmans also worked together
on severalprojects. Oneofthemwas the
film "Superman." A lot of people ask
him if he wrote the violence and she did
theromance, butNewman said itwasn't
like that at all. They collaborated on all
aspects. In the past, rumors have arised
naming Steve McQueen as a possible
consideration for the lead, butNewman
says that's all false. However, fact is
stranger than fiction. During a bizarre
meeting in even a more bizarre town,
Cannes, the possibility of Muhammed
Ali playing the comic book superhero
was debated.

Newman might ask of former president Bush, "Why is this man laughing?"

But Ali as the man of steel never
came to pass. Newman said, "We wrote
to figure out a way to not make him just
aboring boy scout... (someone) with a
little twinkle in his eye." At the time,
Reynolds was the only big-name star
who fit that image. The big break came
with garnering Marlon Brando as
Superman's dad, Jorel. He got $11.5
million for ten days work, but he didn't
even learn the part. Instead, the "lazy"
and legendary actorreadoffcards. Good
'ol Warren was also offered this film,
with a lot of money attatched, but once

again the image issue reared it's ugly
head. According to Newman, Warren
said, "I can't put those tights on. I'll be
the laughingstock of the world." Fi-
nally, thepartwenttoChristopherReeve
who obviously impressed Newman with
his performance, "He was Superman.
He is Superman."
Currently, the charming and enter-
taining Newman lives in New York. He
will be visiting the University semi-
annually to work with the Film Video
Department. And perhaps, next year,
he'll be back with even more amusing


'~~ ' [l1 1 1'lIl 7iigi

Those toddlin' winds
The Chicago Symphony is com-
ing, oh my! Well, notreally,but afew
of them made the trip from Chitown
toAnn Arbor. The ChicagoSymphony
Winds consists of three principal play-
ers in the Chicago Symphony, as well
as other CSO members. That means
that they are quite good. If you're
looking for something artsy to relieve
that post-hoop depression on Sunday,
they willbe at Rackham at4p.m.The
program includes two serenades of
Mozart and Alfred Uhl's Octet. Tick-
ets are $20 to $29 at the University
Musical Society; call 764-2538.
La ci darem 'opera
Another annual School of Music
treat is the Opera Workshop perfor-
mance,happening tonightat the McIn-
tosh theatre. (Yes, it's on North Cam-
pus,butworth the trip-how oftendo
you hear opera in AnnArbor?) Under-
graduate and graduate voice majors,
under the direction of lecturer Joshua
Major, will do arias from "Don
Giovanni," "Hansel and Gretel,"
"Falstaff," "Summer and Smoke,"
"Vanessa" and more. The formidable
Debra Davis will accompany on pi-
ano. Admission, best of all, is free;
showtime is 8 p.m. Get there early to
get a seat.

Free Croissants
If you'd rather pay for your clas-
sical music, the Kerrytown Concert
House is the place to be. Saturday at
11 a.m. University professor of harp
LynneAspnes gives her annual "Harp
Heaven" concert-music for one to
10 harps. Plus, with your $9 admis-
sion, you get croissants from Move-
able Feast. Or, for a more traditional
program, Sunday at4 p.m. the Notre
Dame Trio (that's right, they're from
South Bend) will perform trios of
Schubert, Francaix and Rozsa. Ad-
mission for this concert is $8. Reser-
vations for both shows are recom-
mended; call 769-2999.
More harp(sichord)
And now for something com-
pletely different: a harpsichord re-
cital. Edward Parmentier, associate
professor of harpsichord, will give a
free recital tonight at 8 p.m. in the
Blanche Anderson Moore Hall at the
School of Music. Works include
Forqueray's Suite V in C Minor,
Bach's Chromatic Fantasy andFugue,
and more. Admission is free.

Let me hear your balalaikas ringing out
A 60-year-old orchestra of balalaikas from Detroit? Now we have seen everything. But these folks are for real - they're one of the few authentic
balalaika ensembles outside of Russia. A balalaika, you'll recall, is a three-stringed instrument used to accompany folk dances for the past few hundred
years in Eastern Europe and Russia. But even today these melodies deliver a rousing, emotional evening of folk music. The group includes two University
students: Claudia Dwass (far left) and David Hoover (top row, on right)..They'll perform Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Kerrytown Concert House. Tickets are
$10, $5 for students; call 769-2999 for reservations.


p e. -_ _.. _..
'. ,

Best of Ann Arbor Ballot '93
Please return by April9 to the Daily at 420 Maynard, 48109. Results will be printed in the April I5 Best of Ann Arbor issue of Weekend etc. Thanks for your time.
Best Restaurants/Bars for... Men's clothing Place to find parking
ICoffee Women's clothing Student group/organizationI
urgers Thrift/used clothing Fraternity to party with
French Fries Books Sorority to party with
Pizza Textbooks Co-op
Hot dogs Used books Ugliest building
Wings Haircut Bathroom
Cheap beer First-run theater Lecture Hall
Bar Drinks Video store
Ice cream/Frozen yogurt Liquor/party store Best (and worst) Entertainment
Chipati Photocopying Local band
Sandwiches Sporting goods Dancing spot I
Subs Groceries Concert in past year
' Cookies Florist Radio station
Italian food Magazines Place to go when in an altered state
Middle Eastern food Michigan items (sweats,mugs, etc.)
Chinese food Posters Best (and worst) dating stuff
Korean food Place to meet a mate
Mexican food Best (and worst) of the University Pick-up line
Deli Professor Rejection line
Greasy spoon Course Place for first date
Sports bar Blow-off course Place for secret rendezvous '
Breakfast Residence hall Idea for unusual date
Lunch Sports team "Date movie"

Write for Weekend etc.
Call 763-0379 for information.



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