The Hustler (1961) / Drama-Romance
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG for mature themes
Running Time: 134 min.
Cast: Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott, Myron McCormick
Director: Robert Rossen
Screenplay: Sidney Carroll, Robert Rossen (based on the novel by Walter S. Tevis)
Review published December 9, 1996
The title character of the hustler refers to Fast Eddie Felson (Newman, Hud), a hotshot pool shark who is hustling his way across America from pool hall to pool hall. One day he stumbles across the pool hall frequented by the purported best pool player in the country, Minnesota Fats (Gleason, Smokey and the Bandit). Eddie becomes obsessed with the notion of testing his mettle against Fats, and succeeds until a flaw in his character called being a "born loser" prevents him from winning outright. Then the depression sets in...
The Hustler is a classic movie which is made so by the stellar performances by Newman, Scott (Patton, Malice), Gleason and co. It depicts a simple but powerful portrayal of building character and in finding what's really important in life. Beautifully shot in black and white, director Robert Rossen (All the King's Men, Body and Soul) masterfully captures the dismal life of the pool hall hustler to perfection. The Hustler may be a bit on the slow side for some, and a hair too long for others, but once it gets going it's absorbing entertainment and very highly recommended.
-- Newman would reprise his role asf Fast Eddie Felson in 1986 with The Color of Money.
©1996 Vince Leo