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The Hustler NR

(601) IMDb 8.1/10

"Fast" Eddie Felson is a small-time pool hustler with a lot of talent but a self-destructive attitude. His bravado causes him to challenge the legendary "Minnesota Fats" to a high-stakes match, but he loses in a heartbreaking marathon. Now broke and without his long-time manager, Felson faces an uphill battle to regain his confidence and his game.

Starring:
Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason
Runtime:
2 hours, 15 minutes

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89 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Christopher J. Jarmick on July 4, 2002
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.
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117 of 131 people found the following review helpful By Seiyul Yu on December 25, 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.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on April 5, 2007
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.
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