Writer: Sidney Carroll, Robert Rossen (Screenplay) Walter Tevis (Novel)
Starring: Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C Scott, Myron McCormick, Murray Hamilton, Michael Constantine
Plot: An up-and-coming pool player plays a long-time champion in a single high-stakes match.
Runtime: 2 Hours 14 Minutes
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Story: The Hustler starts as we meet Eddie Felson (Newman) and his business partner Charlie Burns (McCormick) who go from pool hall to pool hall around the country as Eddie takes the players for large sums of money, his latest target is one of the greatest straight ball pool players Minnesota Fats (Gleason).
When the two face off they get involved in an epic games where Eddie is in a large profit, only for his ego to get in the way and for him to lose it all. In the gutter, Eddie meets Sarah Packard (Laurie) who helps him turn his life around as he sets out to get into a position to meet Minnesota for good next time.
Thoughts on The Hustler
Characters – Eddie Felson is an up and coming pool sensation, he goes from pool hall to pool hall to hustler the players giving him the reputation of being known as Fast Eddie. He wants to beat the best and after he lacks the stamina to defeat him, he must rebuild his reputation before taking him on again, Eddie is quick on his feet and knows how the play each different person he meets. Minnesota Fats is the best player in the world of straight pool, he is the greatest player Eddie has played, but he remains calm through the epic long game of over 20 hours. Sarah Packard is the woman that comes into the life of Eddie to help him get back on his feet after the crushing defeat, she is confident in herself and wants to make sure Eddie is doing the right thing. Bert Gordon witnesses the match between the two and sees it as an opportunity to back Eddie on his return to the top.
Performances – Paul Newman is fantastic in this film, we see his confidence throughout the film as he shows us just how much belief his character has in himself. Jackie Gleason is great in the supporting role as we get to see a character that knows he is the best. Piper Laurie and George C Scott in the supporting roles are both great too as they are part of the Eddie recovery.
Story – The story follows a pool hustler that believes he is the best, he wants to go against the best in the game and even after proving himself he doesn’t know when to quit. The story shows us how his addiction will get the best of him when it comes to trying to prove himself against the best players, he never knows when to quit and we see how it can destroy his life, little by little. This is a wonderful story that has pacing that never makes you want to check you watch and by the end up will be completely behind Eddie and his personal demons.
Sports – The sport of choice is straight pool, one version of the game I wasn’t familiar with, but this lets the players continue to show their skills against shot on the table.
Settings – The film uses the settings to show the different style pool halls that Eddie will be attending during his attempt to get what he wants, they show the different styles of crowds we will be witnessing too.
Final Thoughts – This is one of the all-time classics in the world of film, it brings us one of the greatest characters in Eddie Felson, who is both the hero and the villain of his story.
Overall: Must watch classic.