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Welcome to the new Robert Newton chatboard! This is a place to discuss the colorful and talented actor and his work. (Feel free to carry over discussions from the previous message board, located at www.voy.com/17058/, to this one. (If copying and pasting, please use quotation marks and mention who you are quoting. Thanks.)

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pogodip Profile
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No Respect?


I wonder why Robert Newton seldom gets the respect he deserves? Am I the only one who was anxiously awaiting the Turner Classic Movies premiere of "Treasure Island?" But not because of the movie -- although, of course, I couldn’t stop watching it once it started. Instead, I was eager to hear the onscreen comments from host Robert Osborne. I guess I assumed that he would at least mention RN’s contributions to popular, and pirate culture for the very movie his audience was about to watch. Well, Osborne was off the clock at the time and so occasional pinch hitter Ben Mankiewicz was the host that day. Mankiewicz is a sort of younger, hipper version of the older, more dignified Osborne and I figured he might be even more appreciative of the debt pirate culture owes to this movie and this actor.
Well, sadly, I bet you can guess what happened. Yep this “film historian” did say that the movie we were about to see was full of “men with parrots saying “arr a lot” and mentioned that the book “Treasure Island” was responsible for our popular conception of pirates, yet gave no credit to Newton or this particular film for any of this. He, or whoever wrote his copy, seemed to think that the film, and Newton, was only building on pirate clichés already in place. In short, he made the same mistake the recent Cecil Adams “Straight Dope” column did in assuming that Newton was stealing from history, or from Wallace Beery. Mankiewicz only mentioned RN’s name once, in passing, while rattling off the cast just before the film started -- and like the film itself, he gave top billing to Bobby Driscoll!
Ironically, at the end of the picture the erudite Mankiewicz appeared on camera again. I had to laugh when, by way of an awkward transition he remarked that “our next film has nothing to do with pirates.” That film was "Tommy," and I’m sure costar Keith
Moon and any other fans of Robert Newton would disagree with that statement as well.
1/6/2008, 5:58 pm Link to this post Send Email to pogodip   Send PM to pogodip
 
vampyrate Profile
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Re: No Respect?


Hi, and welcome, pogodip! I'm totally with you there. I too eagerly awaited the TCM premiere of TI expecting to hear Robert Osborne mention something about Robert Newton--how could they not when they'd had that tribute to him a couple of months ago?--and I also noticed how the sub just talked about people saying "arr" a lot--while, if you pay attention, Robert Newton is the only one who ever says it in the movie. And while Ralph Truman kind of growls it up along with him, I can't detect any debt that Robert Newton owes to any of his piratical predecessors, especially Wallace Beery. (When I first saw the 1934 version a few years ago, I was startled by how un-piratey he seemed by comparison! That--and seeing Newton build on some of his own earlier performances--was what made me realize that Robert Newton had invented that whole persona.)

Mankiewicz was right that this was the best film version of the story, but to talk about Bobby Driscoll as the star and not even mention Newton's contribution was really disappointing. (Driscoll was meant to be the star, of course, and he does a fine job, but there's no denying who gives the most influential performance.)

I hadn't heard about that Straight Dope column, so I did a search and found it here:

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/071012.html

"Piratespeak. 'Arrrr' showed up late, probably in movies of the 1930s. Actor Robert Newton played Silver in the 1950 version of Treasure Island, one of the better portrayals of old-school piracy, and reprised the role in sequels and on TV; his accent featured a strong rolling R, which likely helped fix 'arrrr' in the piratical canon."

What??? "Probably in movies of the 1930s"??? "'Likely helped fix 'arrrr' in the pirate canon"???! Just "showed up"? Find us one example, Mr. Adams! "One of the better portrayals"? Talk about understatement. *resists urge to make snarky comment about website title and banner* I wonder if anybody set him straight via e-mail. Or one could do so via the message board:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=440141

(Even if you don't post anything, 'tis an interesting thread. Hey, look, one poster kindly linked to our site. emoticon)

Also, I think Keith Moon would have been thrilled to have followed his hero like that! No connection indeed. emoticon (Hard to believe TCM scheduled them one after another and no one there noticed at least a passing similarity between Moonie's Uncle Ernie and Newton's Long John Silver.) *sigh*

Arr, no respect is right. emoticon

PS: As you might guess, I was glued to the TV most of that day. (I even watched The Spanish Main immediately preceding TI, starring Maureen O'Hara and Paul Henreid as the rogueishly suave pirate captain, from 1945. Well, I watched parts of it anyway. By contrast, I didn't even mean to watch all of Treasure Island, having seen it already so many times, but once I started, I was transfixed. I love every minute of that movie!)

PS: Just reading more of that article ... Mr. Adams also has the dates wrong:

"Around 1718, Captain Richard Worley flew a black flag with a white death's-head and crossed femurs, a symbol of death dating to medieval times. By about 1730 this design had caught on among English, French, and Spanish pirates in the West Indies and was called the 'Jolly Roger' or 'Old Roger.'"

The first use of a pirate Jolly Roger was recorded in 1704. By 1724, the Golden Age of Piracy was over.

Last edited by vampyrate, 1/6/2008, 9:55 pm


---
"It's all rather stylish and pretty and rather worrying" --Timothy Spall on his costume in Sweeney Todd

"He must have been fun." --Emlyn Williams (liner notes from "Emlyn Williams as Dylan Thomas in 'A Boy Growing Up'")
1/6/2008, 9:29 pm Link to this post Send Email to vampyrate   Send PM to vampyrate
 
Jenny30 Profile
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posticon Re: No Respect?


I am shocked and sickened to hear that they gave no nod to Newton at all! Are these people blind? Honestly, give credit where credit is due. "Stupid squids!"
By the powers, it makes me want to cut 'n rip, it do!
Well, I guess it's gonna be up to fans like us to spread the word. Thanks Susan for this fabulous website, where people can discover RN's talent - and our own Cap'n Silver, who embodies the essence of all movie pirates now and for all time! Ha-Har! emoticon

---
Jenny

"Let floods o'erswell, and fiends for food howl on!" Ancient Pistol.
Henry V - Act II, Scene I
1/7/2008, 9:32 pm Link to this post Send Email to Jenny30   Send PM to Jenny30
 
pogodip Profile
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Re: No Respect?


Hi Susan,

Thanks for the high five. In the interest of full disclosure though, I’ve been rattling around your excellent site for years. “Pogodip” is actually an oddball screen name I came up with when signing up for your new message board. It’s a name which is impossible to say with a straight face -- or write with out putting it in quotation marks (try it). Anyway you’re welcome for the welcome all the same.

If further proof is needed regarding Robert’ Newton’s unbreakable, but largely unccredited grasp on pop culture, check out the new film “Stardust.” Robert De Nero plays a swaggering, bloodthirsty pirate with a secret who almost constantly snarls “arr” to his men (well, it sounds like De Nero is actually saying “yarr” but the effect is the same). Is this another one for your “impressions” page?

Steve Bingen
1/10/2008, 1:07 pm Link to this post Send Email to pogodip   Send PM to pogodip
 
vampyrate Profile
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Re: No Respect?


Thanks, mateys. It warms my 'eart to know people enjoy the site. Not meaning to go exclusively piratey (sorry, Eva), but that is undeniably one of his major legacies. And he certainly didn't seem to mind reprising the role.

And "pogodip" (hee), a.k.a. Steve, good to hear from you again!

quote:

pogodip wrote:

If further proof is needed regarding Robert’ Newton’s unbreakable, but largely unccredited grasp on pop culture, check out the new film “Stardust.” Robert De Nero plays a swaggering, bloodthirsty pirate with a secret who almost constantly snarls “arr” to his men (well, it sounds like De Nero is actually saying “yarr” but the effect is the same). Is this another one for your “impressions” page?



Most definitely! I hadn't seen that film, but I'll check it out and update the site as soon as I come out of hibernation. (So ... tired ... and cold!) Thanks!

---
"It's all rather stylish and pretty and rather worrying" --Timothy Spall on his costume in Sweeney Todd

"He must have been fun." --Emlyn Williams (liner notes from "Emlyn Williams as Dylan Thomas in 'A Boy Growing Up'")
1/28/2008, 1:03 am Link to this post Send Email to vampyrate   Send PM to vampyrate
 


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