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The loner as enchanted loon appeared next. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting, two improbabilities directed by George Roy Hill, should not have worked, but they flew like butterflies. The entire joke of Cassidy is that two boyish and harmless train robbers, Newman and Robert Redford, arouse the anger of the railroad boss, who to their pained astonishment sends real detectives after them. The lovely conceit of The Sting is that several dozen swindlers will band together to wreak intricate vengeance on a villain who has killed one of their tribe. Neither film can bear analysis; as with a butterfly, you can see the wings, but where is the engine? No matter. When Redford and Newman jump off the cliff in Cassidy, and when Newman and Robert Shaw cheat each other at draw poker in The Sting, the audience knows it has died and gone to heaven.
George Roy Hill, who directed it, has no reluctance in calling The Sting's poker scene "one of the best pieces of comedic acting I've ever seen. I defy any actor to play that scene better." Screenwriter Goldman says that Newman "could be called a victim of the Gary Grant syndrome. He makes it look so easy, and he looks so wonderful, that everybody assumes he isn't acting."
Win some, lose some. How can you take seriously an industry whose three biggest draws a few years ago, says Newman, were "two robots and a shark"? And if moviemaking goes numb, as it is bound to do sometimes, maybe salad dressing will draw a smile from the gods. Newman is the sort of man who questions his acting ability, but is sure he makes the world's best salad dressing. He always makes his own in restaurants, which, come to think of it, is a fairly gaudy stunt for a man who does not like to attract attention. Years ago, at the posh Chasen's restaurant in Los Angeles"It was one of our first stylish meals out," says Joanne, rolling her eyes at the memory"he took an already oiled salad to the men's room, washed it clean, dried it with towels and returned to the table to do things right, with oil cut by a dash of water."
Probably because Hollywood is sure to consider it revoltingly tacky, he has begun manufacturing the stuff as Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing (Appellation Newman Contrôlée), with a sketch of Paul right there on the bottle. His collaborators are his Connecticut friends Photographer Steve Colhoun, Hotchner and Hotchner's wife Ursula. The conspirators are threatening to go into organically grown popcorn, popcorn being another of Newman's passions, and something tentatively called Newman's Own Industrial Strength Venetian Spaghetti Sauce. Profits will go to educational funds, consumer groups and the Scott Newman Foundation, an organization set up to promote accurate portrayal of the drug problem in films and