Monday, July 20, 2020

When Time Ran Out.... Newman's Own Was Born!


The 1970's were a high time for disaster films and the king of disaster was producer Irwin Allen. Mr. Allen's The Poseidon Adventure ushered in a decade filled with films that put a list of hasbeen actors and up and coming stars in a plethora of peril. By the end of the decade, however, the world had enough of disasters and the genre was Hanging by a Thread. (Sorry about that, folks!) In any case, Mr. Allen was not about to let his favorite genre sink, so he even made a sequel to his first disaster opus- Beyond the Poseidon Adventure which promptly tanked at the box office.


Desperate to repeat his prior success, Irwin decided to go for broke and make the ultimate disaster film that he was certain would resurrect the genre- When Time Ran Out... Eager to cast a name, Irwin called Paul Newman, who wasn't the biggest star around, but could still be choosy about which roles he selected. Paul Newman hated the script, hated the genre and had no intention of taking the role. Irwin was persistent, however, and Paul later remarked that when Allen asked him how much money he wanted for the role, he came up with an outlandish sum that he was certain Irwin would reject. Of course, Allen willingly accepted it without question.


So it was a large sum of money that got Paul to star alongside former NFL player Alex Karras and past their prime stars like Burgess Meredith, Ernest Borgnine and Edward Albert, Jr. son of Eddie Albert, playing an unconvincing Polynesian. The movie was a disaster itself, firmly putting the lid on the disaster craze's coffin. It would be a mere footnote in Hollywood history were it not for that large check Paul Newman collected. Rather than pocket the money, Mr. Newman used it as seed money to establish the Newman's Own line of organic foods. In addition to providing healthy alternatives for consumers, proceeds from the sale of the products go to worthy charities, with hundreds of millions donated to date. So while the movie was forgotten, its legacy lives on.


The movie remained elusive on home video, but it ironically got a full restoration after Mr. Newman passed away, becoming part of the "Paul Newman Film Series". While he certainly would have regretted the choice of packaging for the film he actively hated, Paul probably got a kick put of literally making Newman's Own lemonade out of a big lemon.