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The Hustler (1961)

Not Rated | | Drama , Sport | October 1961 (UK)
3:22 | Trailer

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


Robert Rossen


Sidney Carroll (screenplay) (as Sydney Carroll), Robert Rossen (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
4,876 ( 1,827)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Paul Newman ... Eddie Felson
Jackie Gleason ... Minnesota Fats
Piper Laurie ... Sarah Packard
George C. Scott ... Bert Gordon
Myron McCormick Myron McCormick ... Charlie Burns
Murray Hamilton ... Findley
Michael Constantine ... Big John
Stefan Gierasch ... Preacher
Clifford A. Pellow Clifford A. Pellow ... Turk (as Cliff Pellow)
Jake LaMotta ... Bartender
Gordon B. Clarke Gordon B. Clarke ... Cashier
Alexander Rose Alexander Rose ... Score Keeper
Carolyn Coates Carolyn Coates ... Waitress
Carl York Carl York ... Young Hustler
Vincent Gardenia ... Bartender


"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 <jgp3553@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They called him "Fast Eddie"... He was a winner... He was a loser... He was a hustler. See more »


Drama | Sport


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

October 1961 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Robert Rossen's The Hustler See more »

Filming Locations:

Yonkers, New York, USA See more »


Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Kim Novak told Larry King on his television show that she turned down the role of Sarah Packard eventually played by Piper Laurie. See more »


When Eddie returns to Sarah's apartment after he's been beaten up he tells Sarah that they broke his 'thumb'. Later Eddie has both his hands in plaster and later announces that they broke 'both of his thumbs' See more »


Fast Eddie: How can I lose?
See more »


Referenced in Brassed Off (1996) See more »


Louisville Dixieland
(1961) (uncredited)
Music by Dan Terry
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Great games of pool. Not as great otherwise.
7 June 2005 | by Pavel-8See all my reviews

The Hustler is a classic 1961 film about the shady pool halls of the post-WWII era. Anyone of the three main characters could fill the titular role, whether it be Paul Newman's up-and-comer, Jackie Gleason's man-to-beat, or George C. Scott's behind-the-scenes angle-shooter.

These three stars (all-Oscar nominated) carry the picture, both individually and collectively. The thirty-ish Newman is simply a revelation to anyone (me) who hasn't seen him act much in his prime. He perfectly captures the smooth, in control but on the edge persona of Fast Eddie, who has the physical tools, but not necessarily the mental skills to be a champion. Gleason likewise perfectly fills the body and clothes of Minnesota Fats, with a graceful elegance uncommon to a man of his size. Scott (who declined his Oscar nomination) could easily have been overshadowed in his role, but his subtle and shifty eyes and movements create a character that occasionally outshines his two huge co-stars.

The Hustler reaches its zeniths when at least two of these men are on the screen. The dialogue exchanges of Newman and Scott as they feel each other out crackle with intensity. Gleason and Scott ooze wary respect for each other; and Newman and Gleason combine admiration and competitiveness into one neat package from which the entire film derives its energy.

A film about pool sharks seems to demand brilliant representation of its colorful world. But French cinematographer Eugene Shuftan instead opts for black-and-white, which surprisingly works wonderfully. His Oscar-winning imagery particularly excels in displaying light and shadows, such as the sun streaming into smoke-filled billiards halls. Shuftan accomplishes an exceptional feat, using a monotone style to effectively paint vivid pictures.

Despite high achievement in so many areas, The Hustler suffers from Doughnut Syndrome: there's a hole in the middle. The pool scenes that bracket the story are very good, and one middle scene between Newman and Scott is the best of the film, but the romantic portion of the story flounders. The drifter Newman falls for a fellow drifter (Piper Laurie) for no apparent reason, other than alcohol and the fact that they're both alone. To their credit, they do acknowledge that their relationship is flimsy and depraved, but the movie squanders too much times on this wafer-thin story arc, rather than stick with what works.

Those parts succeed wildly, about as enjoyable as any scenes ever shot, but without adequate buttressing material, the film as a whole falls short of the high watermark left by its parts.

Bottom Line: Phenomenal at times, but subpar at others, the male performances carry the film. Seven of ten, but definitely worth viewing if you haven't seen it yet.

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