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The Hustler
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88 of 93 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
The Hustler spotlights one of Paul Newman's finest performances in his portrayal of Fast Eddie Felson, an arrogant, amoral pool hustler who's determined to be the greatest pool player in the country by beating the legendary Minnesota Fats (played flawlessly by Jackie Gleason).
The film is a gritty, uncompromising character study and tragic love story that is set in the world of pool hustlers. Piper Laurie; as an alcoholic floozy who falls hard for Fast Eddie; and George C. Scott as the cold hearted manipulative gambler, Bert Gordon,-- contribute two additional flawless supporting performances. It was directed by the controversial Robert (All the King's Men) Rossen (he resisted but eventually named names during the infamous blacklist of the 50's).
The film focuses on the arrogant, unsympathetic exploits of a con man as he uses his charm, looks and pool playing skills to hustle enough money to challenge Minnesota Fats, only to be humiliated in defeat. As 'Fast Eddie' attempts to raise money for a re-match, he meets and almost falls in love with Sarah a fellow alcoholic. At first Fast Eddie refuses to be managed by Bert Gordon, but after a pool hall hustle ends up with Fast Eddie having his thumbs broken, he reconsiders. Before the re-match with Minnesota Fats, a warm up high stakes game in Louisville has tragic consequences.
The film dares to focus on a-typical anti-hero characters who live by amoral codes. Very little Hollywood style gloss is to be found anywhere in this stylistic gritty masterpiece which wound up being nominated for 10 Academy Awards (West Side Story won most of them that year). Cinematographer Eugene Shufftan deservedly won an Oscar for his moodily lit, beautiful black and white images. Harry Horner's and Gene Callahan's intricately art direction, production design and set decoration were also awarded with Oscars. Pool legend Willie Mosconi taught Newman how to look and act the part of a pool hustler and also made Newman's trick shots in the film. Jackie Gleason was already an excellent pool player. There really was an Aames pool hall in New York City and it is used for the film's most riveting scenes. Boxer Jake LaMotta (of 'Raging Bull' fame) plays a bartender in the film.
Director Rossen who began his career as a screenwriter made only one other film (1964's Lilith) after 'The Hustler'. Rossen died in 1966. Martin Scorcese directed the 1986 sequel Color of Money, with Newman reprising his Fast Eddie role (and this time Newman won a best Actor Oscar for his efforts) as he teaches an up and coming hustler (Tom Cruise) the ropes. The sequel doesn't come close to being as good as the original (despite its stylistic flourishes, cast and director).
Interesting to note that the characters in The Hustler were fictitious and an above average pool player legally changed his name to Minnesota Fats AFTER the film was released. The real life 'Minnesota Fats' eventually played a nationally televised (hosted by Howard Cosell) pool exhibition with William Mosconi in the 1970's more than 10 years after this 1961 film.
DVD IMAGE AND SOUND
The film has been digitally re-mastered in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The films looks to be in excellent shape with very little print damage observed. The look of the film is smoky and gritty and the shadow details are rich indicating strong black levels present. This is a very sharp looking black and white film. The sound will not impress but the dialogue, sound effects and occasional music is crisp and usually centered..

DVD EXTRA'S
In addition to two trailers for the film, there are a few interesting featurettes some production stills and the superb commentary track.
Richard Schickel hosts the too short documentary The Hustler: The Inside Story which gives us some details on how the film came to be made, and delivers some we were there stories from some of the film-makers and a few surprise guests.
"How to Make the Shot," and "Trick Shot Analysis by World Artistic Champion, Mike Massey"
are two shorts demonstrating and showing viewers how to make some trick shots on the pool table.
There is a superb commentary track which features the reminisces, and perspectives from actors: Paul Newman, and Stefan Gierash (Preacher), Dede Allen (film editor), Ulu Grosbard (assistant director), Carol Rossen (the director's daughter), Richard Schickel (film critic, Time), and Jeff Young (film historian). The comments cover all aspects of the making of the film. Newman's comments as one might expect are few.
The film looks and sounds great, the extras compliment the classic film very well. Along with Hud, and Nobody's Fool, The Hustler has, what for me, is one of the three best Newman performances on film. Considering the supporting cast are superb, there's little for anyone to fault with this film.
Christopher J. Jarmick, is the author of The Glass Cocoon with Serena F. Holder a critically acclaimed, steamy suspense thriller...
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113 of 126 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Many people who saw the slick and stylish Scorcese creation Color of Money didn't even realize that Eddie Felson already existed on the silver screen in The Hustler. What many people tell me when they find out and see The Hustler is that either they hated it or loved it. That's because while Color of Money is smooth, slick, smooth, and polished, The Hustler is raw, biting, and powerful and so by definition it is not for everyone. Color of Money is more about visual effects and music, which is classic Scorcese, though there's no real substance. Scorcese himself has said in interviews that movies like Goodfellas were close to his heart, but Color of Money was just a commercialized creation.
The Hustler, on the other hand, really grabs you. First off, as a pool player myself, let me tell you Tom Cruise can't play pool worth a damn, and that lack of authenticity is a glaring weakness to begin with. But just the fact that Newman and Gleason can play pool does not make The Hustler a better movie - it's a masterpiece because it is a gripping tale of human redepmption, of Eddie's battle to separate his pool game from his self-esteem. It's also about one man's passion for the game. How can any pool player forget that soliloquoy by Fast Eddie when he and Sarah go for that picnic, how he talks about how he loves even just the sound of the click of the balls, how the cue has nerves in it and is part of his arm!
Remember that last scene in Color of Money, where young cocky Vincent plays the older, cagier Fast Eddie and Eddie declares "I'm back" before he breaks the balls? Even though the movie ends there, everyone knows Eddie wiped up the floor with Vincent. Vincent's character had talent, but Eddie had character, and that's what beat Fast Eddie time he played Fats.
Bert Gordon: You got talent.
Fast Eddie: I got talent? So what beat me?
Bert: Character.
And that's the way the two movies are too. Color of Money has talent, but The Hustler has character.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Let's face it, what can I possibly say about Robert Rossen's exquisitely hard-edged classic that hasn't been said before? "The Hustler" is an astounding and uncompromising drama that seems as fresh today as it did 45 years ago. So often we'll look back at the classics--and, as is appropriate, they might seem dated. Times change and that is reflected in cinema. "The Hustler," though, is one of the rare films that was so sophisticated, so intelligent, and so honestly raw--that its power has not been diminished by the years. Set in a very unglamorous world of pool halls and back rooms, "The Hustler" is a testosterone fueled excursion into the life and pursuits of one of Hollywood's most notorious anti-heroes--Fast Eddie Felson. Nominated for eight Oscars, this refreshingly adult film cemented Paul Newman's status as one of our greatest actors.

The story of "The Hustler" is surprisingly simplistic. A brash young pool shark sets his sights on defeating one of the game's greatest players--Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason, at his best). But getting up on Fats isn't enough--no, he wants to crush his opponent. Eddie's naked and uncompromising drive eventually becomes his undoing as his winning streak turns to defeat. Despondent and broke, Eddie aligns with an equally desperate love interest. Sarah, played by Piper Laurie (never better), is a bitter alcoholic who has given up on life. But her complicated romance with Eddie seems to hint at the possibility of new hope. Eddie, however, can't change his spots overnight and an encounter with an unscrupulous manager (George C. Scott) just might get Eddie a second chance at Fats. For good or for bad, it seems Eddie is destined to go down that road again.

Paul Newman imbues Eddie with much cockiness, bravado, arrogance, ambition, and even desperation. In my opinion, it is Newman's best and most multi-layered performance. This (along with "Hud") celebrated Newman as a new type of leading man--someone you could like and despise at once. Morally questionable, perhaps even amoral at times, Newman was not afraid to be despicable. While only Oscar nominated for this film, ironically he won roughly 25 years later for reprising Eddie for "The Color of Money." Laurie, Scott, and Gleason all picked up Oscar nods as well. The film is impeccably acted and beautifully filmed. Not just for those with an interest in pool, "The Hustler" is a searing drama that stands as a deft character study of a man figuring out what is important after all.

While the Collector's Edition seems to be handsomely packaged as a two disc set, whether or not it's worth the upgrade from the Special Edition seems a bit suspect. Both have widescreen presentation, commentary from Newman and "Time" film critic Richard Schickel (among others), and features on "How to Make The Shot" and "The Hustler: The Inside Story." This new addition adds four featurettes--"Life in the Fast Lane: Fast Eddie Felson and The Search for Greatness," "Milestones in Cinema History: The Making of The Hustler," "Swimming with Sharks: The Art of the Hustle," and "Paul Newman: Hollywood's Cool Hand." So it's a judgment call whether or not you feel these extra shorts will add to your viewing experience. If you don't own the film, then it's a no-brainer! Either way, "The Hustler" is a true classic. One of Newman's best (if not best) performances make this gritty and timeless drama a must own DVD. KGHarris, 04/07.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2011
Format: Blu-ray
The Hustler (drama, romance, sport)
Directed by Robert Rossen
Starring Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie and George C. Scott

20th Century Fox | 1961 | 134 min | Rated R | Released May 17, 2011

Video:
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.34:1

Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English: Dolby Digital 2.0
French: DTS 5.1
German: DTS 5.1
Portuguese: DTS 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles:
English SDH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Mandarin, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish

Disc:
Single 50GB Blu-ray Disc (digibook)

The Hustler was nominated for nine Oscars, winning for cinematography and art direction for a black and white film. The four main actors deservedly received nominations, although George C. Scott refused his. It was the second nomination for Newman, the first of three for Piper Laurie and Jackie Gleason's only nomination. The film deserved the recognition, but West Side Story ended up with 10 Oscars that year. Newman received an honorary Oscar in 1986 and won a best supporting actor Oscar a year later when he reprised the role of Eddie Felson in The Color of Money.

The film is quite complex. Although a sports movie on the surface, there's a strong romantic element. The story is essentially about strength of character. What would you do to get what you want in life? What if it means hurting people close to you? Is the goal worth the sacrifices? And, most important of all, how do we define success?

Newman was an emerging force in 1961, but his popularity hadn't reached its peak. His portrayal of Eddie Felson was convincing. He only took the role because another movie he had committed to fell through.

Felson begins the story as a pool player who is building his reputation. He wants to take on the best and prove that he's the better player. There are definite similarities between Felson's place in the pool world and Newman's status in the acting world at the time. Both were looking to make a name for themselves.

We learn in the opening scenes that Felson is a hustler. While playing a game with Charlie, his manager, he deliberately misses shots he could make. He also pretends to be drunk. The people watching are fooled and he wins $105 by betting that he can make a difficult shot and pulling it off. Then he leaves with Charlie and they look for victims in another town. This is Felson's life. He makes a living conning people who don't know that he has real ability.

Felson isn't satisfied and dreams of making $10,000 in one night. In order to reach his lofty goal, he plans to play the best pool player in the country, Minnesota Fats (Gleason). Fats hasn't lost a game for 15 years and has heard of Felson. He agrees to the game.

The stakes begin at $200 and quickly build to $1,000 per game. Felson is cocky and talks a good game, but also backs it up with good play. He's soon ahead by over $11,000 and Charlie wants him to quit, but Felson says he'll play until Fats says the game is over. He doesn't just want to win, he's looking to humiliate Fats and break his spirit. After 12 hours, Felson is ahead $18,000, but still insists on continuing the game.

You can see where the story is heading. Fats freshens up, washes his hands and puts powder on them. Felson teases him on how beautiful he looks. Fats starts winning and Felson keeps drinking. He eventually loses everything apart from $200. Who was hustling whom?

The pace of the film changes after the initial meeting with Fats. Felson doesn't have the necessary stake money for another game. He meets Sarah Packard (Laurie) and eventually moves in with her. She has a limp from having polio as a child and enjoys drinking even more than Felson. The two are a good match and each has flaws.

Charlie visits and we learn that he has $1,500 which was his cut of Felson's previous pool winnings. Felson is angry and decides to cut Charlie out of his life. Sarah wonders if she's next. This part of the film moves a little slowly and some viewers may lose interest, but I felt it worked and was essential to give the film depth and additional meaning.

The pace picks up when Felson meets Bert Gordon (Scott) who is Fats' manager and witnessed the first game between the two. Bert says that Fats was on the hook for the first time in 10 years, but Felson let him off. He calls Felson a born loser, but a loser with talent. He wants to be his manager and demands 75 percent of any winnings. He also issues a warning that Felson could get hurt if he wanders into the wrong pool hall and they realize that he's hustling.

After learning a few life lessons, Felson takes Bert up on his offer. He takes Sarah for a meal and she comments that it's the first time she's seen him wear a tie. It's a sign that he is willing to change. The two go on the road with Bert and Felson plays billiards for big stakes. Billiards isn't his game of choice; he prefers pool. Felson loses initially, but something in his demeanor convinces Bert to continue staking him. He eventually wins enough for another showdown with Fats.

The final 10 minutes of the film show the second game between the two. Felson has changed since the first meeting and life has toughened him up. He's still brash, but won't take a drink while he's playing. I won't reveal who wins, but the film reflects on how we define winning and success in life.

The film has an authentic feel. The pool rooms are dark, seedy and potentially dangerous places. They match the gritty feel of the film. The pool scenes were shot in real pool halls rather than on a set. The only thing that wasn't convincing is the way the actors held a cue in a few shots. A professional player wouldn't have his head so far away from the cue and certainly wouldn't wear a jacket in case it touched another ball and caused a foul shot. But the actors did a good job and both performed most of their shots. The remainder were performed by former billiards world champion Willie Mosconi.

Video Quality 4.5/5
The Hustler looks great in this 50th anniversary Blu-ray edition. There's light grain throughout, but it's never overwhelming. Much of the footage was shot in dark pool halls, but still looks good. The image is clean and free of dirt and print damage. There's plenty of detail and the black and white image matches the mood of the film.

Audio Quality 4/5
The lossless English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix isn't perfect, but offers a considerable upgrade over previous releases. The balls enter the pockets with a resounding thump and the score sounds good. Where it loses a point is in the dialogue as it doesn't sound completely natural. The original mix is also included as well as 5.1 mixes in four other languages.

Special Features 5/5

This package includes a number of features looking back on the film, as well as a couple of segments devoted to Newman's career. They are well worth a look.

Audio commentary by Paul Newman, Carol Rossen, Dede Allen, Stefan Gierasch, Ulu Grosbard, Richard Schickel and Jeff Young

Paul Newman at Fox (27:11)

Jackie Gleason: The Big Man (12:04)

The Real Hustler: Walter Tevis (18:55)

Life in the Fast Lane: Fast Eddie Felson and the Search for Greatness (11:49)

Milestones in Cinema History: The Hustler (28:04)

Swimming with Sharks: The Art of the Hustle (9:38)

The Hustler: The Inside Story (24:32)

Paul Newman: Hollywood's Cool Hand (43:44)

Trick Shot Analysis by Mike Massey (13:51)

How to Make the Shot with Mike Massey (3:41)

US and Spanish theatrical trailers

26-page digibook

The digibook package looks beautiful and the pages contain high quality photographs. The only slight reservation I have is that the disc isn't held in place by a spindle, it just slides into a slot.

The Hustler is a character-driven drama with a strong romantic element. It should appeal to a wide variety of people and is one of Newman's best roles. He's surrounded by a quality supporting cast. If you are a fan of Newman or character pieces in general, this 50th anniversary presentation is an essential purchase. If you like the film, check out The Color of Money (1986) to find out what the future holds for Felson.

Overall score 4.5/5
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
With or without the Oscar, this is one of the greatest American films ever made in any genre. George C. Scott refused to take part in the Oscar ceremonies when "The Hustler" was nominated, calling them "a self-serving orgy" if my memory serves me right. Perhaps that stand contributed to the movie not being recognized in its own time. Whatever the reason, this film shows you that recognition is unnecessary for true art. The cream always rises to the top.
People may not realize that Paul Newman was an unknown when this movie was made. His youthful brashness and emotion laden performance show him as an actor beyond his years.
One can never say too much about George C. Scott. He's old reliable, in this movie as in his others. He does an excellent job. He's just so good that we are numb to his mastery.
Piper Laurie also turns in an amazing performance. Her acting is subtle but her method is steady.
The real standout in this film is Jackie Gleason. He shows why he was called "The Great One." I personally feel that this movie shows him as the greatest method actor of his generation, and perhaps one of the greatest ever.
But unbelievable acting is only one part of this gem. The cinematography is clear and artistic. The script is expertly written and the scenery couldn't be more authentic.
This is the only pool movie I know of that you can enjoy as a pool player. The pool scenes are unbelievable. They used the greatest pool players of the day in shooting and it shows. The Color of Money is a nicely shot movie but there is not really a lot of pool in it. This is a pool movie that transcends pool.
Please do yourself a favor and add this to your collection.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
1961's "The Hustler" is a picture that will truly "suck you in". It totally absorbed my attention throughout. Making this in black-and-white was a wise choice by the movie-makers too. It sets the mood of the drab surroundings we experience during the film.
A perfect cast has been assembled here, with Paul Newman a knockout in the lead role of pool shark "Fast Eddie" Felson. Piper Laurie, George C. Scott, Murray Hamilton, and Myron McCormick give strong support to Newman. And there's a very controlled and somewhat subdued Jackie Gleason as "Minnesota Fats". Jackie doesn't have a huge part here, but he pulls off his role as "Fats" with style.
There are a lot of quiet moments in this picture ... when just visuals propel the story. I like that in movies! Sometimes there's too much dialogue in a film, in places where nothing needs to be said at all. It just seemed to me that the producer/director (Robert Rossen) knew when to keep the actors quiet here.
The Hustler will forever remain a Classic to me!!
Some Hustler stats:
-------------------------------------
Running Time: 135 minutes.
Debut in theatres: September 25, 1961.
Nominated for Best Picture of 1961. (Beaten out by "West Side Story".)
Paul Newman nominated for Best Actor of 1961. (Beaten out by Maximilian Schell--Judgment at Nuremburg.)
Both George C. Scott and Jackie Gleason were nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1961 for this film. (Both beaten out by George Chakiris--West Side Story.)
Piper Laurie nominated for Best Actress in '61. (Beaten out by Sophia Loren--Two Women.)
Film won two 1961 Oscars --- Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (B&W).
Billiard champ Willie Mosconi, 14-time world champion from 1941-1957, was a key technical adviser on the set of The Hustler, literally teaching Mr. Newman how to play the game of pocket billiards, right down to his grip on the cue stick. Newman became quite proficient by the end of the shooting of the picture.
Newman reprised his role as Fast Eddie in 1986's sequel, "The Color of Money", co-starring Tom Cruise. Newman DID win the Oscar for Best Actor that year.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2012
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
Please describe the audio and video quality of any Blu-Ray you review. Thanks to those who do this.

Aspect Ratio: approximately 2.35:1 (it looked more like 2.30:1).
Audio: DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. Good.
Video: Black and white. Very good.
Length: 2 hours 15 minutes.

Overall, a good Blu-Ray purchase.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 22, 2002
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
The Hustler is loaded with great performances by Piper Laurie, George C. Scott and Jackie Gleason, among others. However, Paul Newman, in one of his greatest performances (his breakout), is the nerve center of the film. He somehow manages to be both cocky and vulnerable at the same time. I've always admired Newman (and his Butch Cassidy partner Robert Redford, for that matter) for not relying on his looks, for his willingness to play flawed characters, and for using his star power to make quality films that have something to say. His "Fast Eddie" Felson in The Hustler is a prime example. Bert Gordon (George C. Scott) has Eddie pegged when he calls him a "loser." Although talented, Eddie is a pawn of unscrupulous people who use him to satisfy their own greed. He treats Sarah (Piper Laurie), the only person who really cares about him like dirt. SPOILER ALERT: In the end, he loses Sarah and is blackballed from playing pool forever. It's a masterful performance by Newman and a credit to his artistic integrity that he was willing to play such a loser.

However, Newman somehow lost the 1961 Best Actor Oscar to Maximillian Schell for Judgment at Nuremberg. Schell is a terrific actor and "Judgment" was a wonderful film, but his performance was clearly a supporting role. Newman, in contrast, is in almost every scene of The Hustler. If someone from Judgment at Nurember deserved the Best Actor Oscar, it was Spencer Tracy who was the lead. It's bad enough that Paul Newman lost the Oscar, but to do so to a performance that was really a supporting role is ridiculous. The Oscar is an award that rightfully carries a lot of prestige. In 1961, however, the Academy tainted that prestige by denying Paul Newman of an award that he richly deserved. Newman was criticized when he did not attend the 1986 Oscar ceremony to accept his award for his reprise of Eddie Felson in The Color of Money. When you realize how badly he was snubbed in 1961, you can understand why he passed on the ceremony in 1986.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
The Hustler is a 1961 20th Century Fox release about the game of billiards. It features an amazing cast; Paul Newman as Fast Eddie, Jackie Gleason as Minnesota Fats, Piper Laurie as Sarah Packard, and George C. Scott as Bert Gordon. Robert Rossen directs the 134-minute film, with outstanding cinematography, for which it won an academy award, but it was hard not to just watch the amazing acting displayed.
The most interesting things I found in the movie are the lighting and the camera angles. The pool halls are just as most people picture them, dark, dingy and full of smoke. This is visible at the beginning of the movie when Fast Eddie and Minnesota Fats play their first game of pool. The players are lit when playing at the table, but when the rest of the hall is shown, it is dark with almost no lighting whatsoever. I find it interesting that the actors are kept in the shadows, even when delivering dialogue, until they lean to the table to shoot. I feel this is to emphasize the game played, and the players, but only when they are doing what is important to them. This also pushes the spectators almost out of view, to become the same as the viewers in the theatre and at home. This leads to a somewhat humorous scene. Fast Eddie and Minnesota Fats are playing a marathon set of games for high stakes. The favorite is Fats, but he is down about $10,000. While Fats is making a shot, an employee of the pool hall starts to raise the blinds, and he complains telling the employee to "cut that sunshine out", to accentuate the mood I feel the director was trying to set. After 25 hours of playing, Minnesota Fats wins back $13,000 dollars, leaving Eddie with only $200 in his pocket.
The lighting changes when Eddie is not in the pool hall, and is almost blinding to the viewer. There are many scenes with Eddie and Sarah in her apartment, and it is usually very bright, but when the mood is depressing or dreary, it gets darker, helping to convey the mood displayed. When they travel out of the apartment, the mood is usually light, and the scenery also brightens showing the actors more dramatically.
The camera angles used in the movie are very interesting to the viewer. There are many shots inside of doorways, usually featuring Fast Eddie. Those scenes are usually more personal parts of the movie, away from the pool halls. The actors are almost never featured in the center of the screen, but offset to the side. I feel this is to allow the lighting to enter more into the viewing experience. When scenes are shown featuring two actors, the camera takes a side view, making the space between them seems greater. The camera also often shifts in between characters, even when separated by just a table. This allows the spectator to concentrate more on the speaker, or to view emotion conveyed by the other actors. When the actors are playing pool, the camera often pans up to the character leaning down to the table. I feel this angle allows us to focus more on the action of shooting, and on facial expressions, instead of the actual shot. When at the pool hall, there are also many angled shots from above and over, allowing the background and lighting to display more prominently.
I would rate this movie five stars. While I have not concentrated on the acting, it is tremendous. Paul Newman displays amazing emotion, and mix of desperation and cockiness of Fast Eddie conveys through almost every small thing he does. The story line is unique and builds the characters into people that the viewer can become very interested. However, I find that what the audience usually does not notice is what truly makes this movie great.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Is it possible to get much cooler than a film about shooting pool for money against legendary players? How about an achingly beautifully black and white film about shooting pool starring Paul Newman and George C. Scott? Newman is Fast Eddie Felson, a pool hustler who is defined right from his opening scene/hustle. His dream is to make it to the city to take on Minnisota Fats, the greatest straight pool player around. This is where the Hustler takes a turn from your average "Guy with a dream" story. It only takes about three scenes before Felson is playing against Fats, and beating him pretty badly too. Only this game goes until someone calls it quits, and Fats eventually wear down Felson over the course of a highly enjoyable (from the viewer's perspective) sequence of pool games. From there Felson's world crashes around him and he winds up taking sides with a big money man played by George C. Scott who teaches Felson why he lost and why he needs the killer instinct to win. But is this really the kind of instinct a guy like Felson wants to develop? With tight, refined filming, a wonderful script, and a cast that just keeps getting better, The Hustler is truly a great film and a wonderful movie.
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