Brick Pollitt (Paul Newman), an alcoholic ex-football player, drinks his days away and resists the affections of his wife, Maggie (Dame Elizabeth Taylor). His reunion with his father, Big Daddy (Burl Ives), who is dying of cancer, jogs a host of memories and revelations for both father and son.
Honest and hard-working Texas rancher Homer Bannon has a conflict with his unscrupulous, selfish, arrogant and egotistical son Hud, who sank into alcoholism after accidentally killing his brother in a car crash.
Wyoming, early 1900s. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid are the leaders of a band of outlaws. After a train robbery goes wrong they find themselves on the run with a posse hard on their heels. Their solution - escape to Bolivia.
George Roy Hill
"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
At least some of the film was shot on location in Louisville, KY. The hotel where Eddie, Sarah & Burt check in is the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville. There are clear interior shots of its distinctive period lobby. Its other claim to fame is that it was frequented by Al Capone during the prohibition era and was also the haunt of another gangster named Rebus that F. Scott Fitzgerald modelled Gatsby on. The hotel also features in The Great Gatsby (2013). See more »
After thugs break his thumbs, Eddie wears cast on his hands that remain sparking white for weeks - an impossibility because casts are dirt magnets that quickly become dingy-looking under the best of conditions and he's seen spilling coffee on them, lives in a seedy apartment, goes outside for a picnic and so on. See more »
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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