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The Hustler (1961)

Unrated  |   |  Drama, Sport  |  25 September 1961 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 59,173 users  
Reviews: 161 user | 94 critic

An up-and-coming pool player plays a long-time champion in a single high-stakes match.



(screenplay) (as Sydney Carroll) , (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Top 250 Movies #244 | Won 2 Oscars. Another 15 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Myron McCormick ...
Charlie Burns
Big John
Clifford A. Pellow ...
Turk (as Cliff Pellow)
Gordon B. Clarke ...
Alexander Rose ...
Score Keeper
Carolyn Coates ...
Carl York ...
Young Hustler


"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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Only the angel who falls knows the depths of hell. See more »


Drama | Sport


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

25 September 1961 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Robert Rossen's The Hustler  »

Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Fast Eddie is from Oakland, California. See more »


In Fats' first game against Eddie, his cigarette disappears briefly. See more »


Bert Gordon: How's your hand?
Fast Eddie: Fine.
Bert Gordon: Good. I'd hate to think I was puttin' my money on a cripple.
Fast Eddie: Hey, whaddaya say somethin' like that for?
Sarah Packard: It's alright, Eddie. I'm sure Mr. Gordon meant no offense. It was a figure of speech.
Bert Gordon: That's right, Miss Packard.
Sarah Packard: And a fact is a fact.
Bert Gordon: Smart girl, Eddie.
See more »


Referenced in Pulp Fiction (1994) See more »


Louisville Dixieland
(1961) (uncredited)
Music by 'Dan Terry'
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

14 December 2003 | by (The Hague, Netherlands) – See all my reviews

Possible minor spoilers.

'The Hustler' is a great movie that involves the game of pool. Although this is important it is not really about the game. It is more about the life around it, Fast Eddie Felson's life in particular. Paul Newman plays this man in a terrific way. Eddie is a great pool player, he could be the best, if only he had more character. This is what Bert Gordon (George C. Scott) tells him. It is true. Eddie is a self-destructive man. He drinks too much and he does not know when to stop. At one point early in the movie he is playing the man who is considered the best of the country, Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason), and he has won 18.000 dollars but he gets too drunk and loses everything.

(Minor spoilers.) Then he meets a girl Sarah (Laurie Piper) who, like him, drinks too much. They start living together and it seems that Eddie is changing, but we suspects he is always thinking about playing Minnesota Fats again. Eddie gets in some trouble, his thumbs are broken, and after this he decides that he needs Bert Gordon to get back on track again. Gordon made him an offer before his thumbs were broken which seemed pretty unfair but now Eddie thinks he has no choice. He has the woman he loves on one side, who could get him out of trouble, and the game of pool and his desire to be the best on the other. What will happen is for you to see.

The interesting story about this self-destructive man is also about the self-destructive woman and the events around her are almost inevitable. The hero is a hero in most ways, but it is a hero who must face his weaknesses instead of discovering his strong points. This kind of hero is rare these days. Paul Newman shows us why he became such a great star with this memorable role.

Other things are very good too here. Although the game is never explained it is fun to watch every shot, some of them almost impossible. The black and white cinematography looks great. Fast Eddie Felson would return in Martin Scorsese's 'The Color of Money', a lesser film in some points but very good as well.

31 of 48 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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The thumb breaking scene? pinealrapture
Fats employed every trick to beat Felson; otherwise he loses. isolated_ions
What did Bert Gordon whisper to Sarah? kag2-1
Handbook on the side? HenriettaDemina
What did G.C. Scott mean when he screamed "You owe ME MONEY!" epatten67
George C Scott or Jackie Gleason? kag2-1
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