The Hustler (1961) Poster



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All the pool shots in the movie are performed by the actors themselves (Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason) except one: the massé shot (cue ball sends two object balls into the same pocket), performed by Willie Mosconi.
One of the first mainstream Hollywood films to use the word "bastard".
Piper Laurie didn't make another film for the next 15 years, devoting the time to her marriage and raising her only daughter. She returned to the screen in 1976 in 'Brian de Palma''s Carrie (1976), earning her second Oscar nomination.
Boxer Jake LaMotta appears as as one of the many bartenders in the film. His one line is "Check," and he says it three times.
Paul Newman had never held a pool cue before he landed the role of Fast Eddie Felson. He took out the dining room table from his home and installed a pool table so he could spend every waking hour practicing and polishing up his skills.
When Fast Eddie prepares for his first matchup against Minnesota Fats, his manager sits down in front of a poster depicting Willie Mosconi, 14-time world champion in billiards from 1941 to 1957. About ten minutes later, Willie himself makes a cameo as the guy who holds onto the bet money. His character name is also Willie.
Director Robert Rossen was a pool hustler himself in his youth. He had even penned an unsuccessful pool-themed play called 'Corner Pocket'.
In a curious train of events, a bartender here played by boxer Jake LaMotta would later have his life story filmed as Raging Bull (1980) by director Martin Scorsese who, in turn, would direct the 'Hustler' sequel The Color of Money (1986).
The film started a national resurgence in the popularity of pool.
George C. Scott refused his Oscar nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category because he didn't believe in actors competing against each other unless if were playing the exact same role. But when he lost the Best Supporting Actor Oscar to George Chakiris in West Side Story (1961), it essentially started for good the actor's longstanding feud with the Academy over the fact that political decisions were involved in the choice of who won. This ultimately led to Scott rejecting the Oscar he won in 1970 for his performance in Patton (1970).
According to editor Dede Allen, an entire scene from this film was omitted after much deliberation between Allen and her director Robert Rossen. Even though both agreed that the scene, an impassioned speech by Paul Newman in the pool room, was possibly the best part of his entire performance, they had to throw it out because "...it didn't move the story." Newman, though Oscar-nominated, later claimed that the deleted scene most likely cost him the Academy Award.
There's a misconception that the character Minnesota Fats is based on the real Minnesota Fats (Rudolf Wanderone Jr.). Actually, the character appeared in the book and the film before Wanderone, who up until this time had called himself "New York Fats", appropriated the name.
The film crew built a dining area that was so realistic that people showed up expecting to have their orders taken.
Prior to the premiere, Richard Burton hosted a midnight screening for the casts of various Broadway shows. This generated a lot of positive word of mouth, forcing 20th Century Fox - who hadn't been actively promoting the film - to step up their promotional activities.
An early example of a Hollywood movie with a pre-credits sequence, a rarity at the time.
During the filming, one of the production days happened to fall on St. Patrick's Day. Prior to Jackie Gleason's arrival to the shoot at the pool hall, the lighting crew took out all the clear gels, and replaced them with green ones. Upon seeing this, Gleason was so impressed he said, "Boys! This looks beautiful! Take the rest of the day off!". He left, and production was shut down for that day!
Robert Rossen hired real street thugs and enrolled them in the Screen Actors Guild so that they could be used as extras.
Jackie Gleason was in reality a very good pool player and did many of his own shots in the film.
When it was necessary to show some of the trickier shots, 14 time world billiards champion Willie Mosconi (who was also the film's technical advisor) would play the stunt hands.
When first approached to play the role of Fast Eddie Felsen, Paul Newman couldn't accept it because he was scheduled to begin filming Two for the Seesaw (1962) with Elizabeth Taylor. When Taylor was held up with the filming of Cleopatra (1963), "Seesaw" was postponed and Paul was able to do this film.
Filmed over six weeks entirely on location in New York City.
While at the Kentucky Derby, the race announcer lists some of the horses racing. One of the horses named is "Stroke of Luck". "Stroke of Luck" was one of the titles considered for the film as a result of studio fears that the title "The Hustler" would create negative connotations with prostitution.
Tony Curtis turned down the lead role.
An aficionado of acting, George C. Scott told interviewer Lawrence Grobel in his December 1980 "Playboy" magazine interview that his The Hustler (1961) co-star Paul Newman's performance in that film was nothing special (both actors were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances). However, he found Newman's performance as the eponymous Hud (1963) to be a superb piece of acting.
As part of her research for her part, Piper Laurie actually hung out at the Greyhound terminal at night.
The words Sarah writes on the mirror are "perverted", "twisted" and "crippled".
This is Rob Reiner's favorite sports movie.
William Duell's film debut.
Kim Novak told Larry King on his television show that she turned down the role of Sarah Packard eventually played by Piper Laurie.
Ranked #6 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Sports" in June 2008.
Frank Sinatra optioned the novel at one point.
Although Jackie Gleason is billed second, he only appears in the film for about 20 minutes.
Paul Newman agreed to make the film having read only half the script. He knew at that stage that it was a great project for him.
The Hustler (1961) while nominated for many awards, lost all the major ones and the main competition at the Oscars were the films Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) and West Side Story (1961) . In the scene when Eddie takes Sara out to a restaurant just before the Louisville trip, Sara has a line "I feel pretty" which, of course was the title to a major song in West Side Story.
Gen. Colin Powell lists this as one of his favorite movies.
Fast Eddie is from Oakland, California.
Cliff Robertson lost the role that went to Paul Newman, Jack Lemmon having already declined the part.
Initially Paul Newman turned down the part of Fast Eddie Felson, as he was unavailable, having committed to star alongside Elizabeth Taylor in the film version of "Two for the Seesaw". Robert Rossen then offered the part to Bobby Darin. However, shooting overruns on Taylor's Cleopatra (1963) meant that she had to drop out of "Seesaw". Newman was then offered the part of Felson again; he accepted it after reading only half of the script. Nobody thought to tell Bobby Darin though, who found out from a member of public at a charity horse race.
Carol Eve Rossen was one of many actresses considered for the part later taken by Piper Laurie.


The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

In the first big game, Eddie uses massé to change the cue ball direction and pocket two balls on a single shot. In the final game of the movie, he does it again. This is actually the same shot filmed from different angles. Although the shot is impressive, it is very risky and would give Eddie no discernible advantage.

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