A cocky pool hustler challenges a longtime champ to a high-stakes
match, which leads him to make a deal with a shady gambler.
The Hustler (1961)
Directed by Robert Rossen
Written by Sidney Carroll and Robert Rossen
Starring Paul Newman, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott,
Jackie Gleason, Myron McCormick, Murray Hamilton
Based on the novel by Walter Tevis
Oscar Wins - Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (Paul Newman),
Best Actress (Piper Laurie), Best Supporting Actor (Jackie Gleason), Best Supporting Actor (George C. Scott), Best Director,
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Hustler is an entertaining look at the inner workings of the underground pool scene, and a great performance piece by everyone involved. This was one of the first major film roles for Paul Newman and he shows the world how he was more than prepared to take Hollywood by storm. His character of "Fast" Eddie Felson is charming, aggravating, and most of all likable, in a world filled with selfish scumbags who prey on suckers.
Paul Newman gives a fantastic performance as Eddie, a young pool hustler who cares more about the game than the money. His characters is easy to relate to and he seems like the only real person in a sea of larger-than-life caricatures. That isn't to say the rest of the cast was bad. I felt that George C. Scott, Piper Laurie, and Jackie Gleason all gave phenomenal performances that were definitely Oscar-worthy. I also highly enjoyed the jazzy score by Kenyon Hopkins. It helped round out the seedy, underground atmosphere of the film's numerous pool scenes.
The Hustler is a great film filled with great characters that is one of the few films made about pool. I never really considered it a sport, but after seeing how seriously people take it, I have no problem putting it in that category. The film is also a compelling drama, showing a real relationship between Eddie and Sarah (Laurie) that Eddie pushes aside in favor of the game. Eddie's obsession with the game and the way it's played helps make this film a must-see for film aficionados everywhere, as well as fans of sports films.