"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. It isn't until he hits rock bottom that he agrees to join up with ruthless and cutthroat manager Bert Gordon. Gordon agrees to take him on the road to learn the ropes. But Felson soon realizes that making it to the top could cost him his soul, and perhaps his girlfriend. Will he decide that this is too steep a price to pay in time to save himself? Written by
Ranked #6 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Sports" in June 2008. See more »
In the last game with Fats, Eddie starts by calling and pocketing the 1 ball and the 12 ball. Eddie is talking to Bert as he sets up his next shot, a 4 ball, which he then pockets. His next string of calls - the 5 ball, the 14 ball, and then the 4 ball again (which he had already pocketed). See more »
The pool game is over when Fats says it's over... I came after him and I'm gonna get him. I'm going with him all the way.
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I've seen The Hustler repeated times, thought not as many as some of the other commentators. Recently I saw it for the first time in the theater, at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. Watching "The Hustler" in a theater is like listening to Dave Brubeck's "Time Out" album: you start to see and even hear things in black and white. You know the pool tables are green, and the balls are multi-colored, but somehow the black and white perfectly matches the colorless existence of the protagonist and his supporting players. You can smell the cigarettes, taste the booze.
Newman, Gleason, Scott, and Laurie all turn in great performances. But this movie, made after the heyday of the studio players' contract, still bears the hallmark of great movies from that era: strong supporting performances all the way down the line. Vincent Gardenia, for pete's sake, as the unlucky bartender in the first scene! Michael Constantine as Big John. Myron McCormick as Charlie, Eddie's sponsor most of the way through the movie. And Murray Hamilton as the millionaire Southern mark. This movie was made when supporting roles were an end in themselves, by actors who believed every second they were on screen should be of high quality.
The day I wrote this review -- January 18, 2004 -- The Hustler was no. 143 on the Top 250 list. No way are there 142 better movies.
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