8.0/10
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206 user 112 critic

The Hustler (1961)

Not Rated | | Drama, Sport | 25 September 1961 (USA)
Trailer
3:19 | Trailer
An up-and-coming pool player plays a long-time champion in a single high-stakes match.

Director:

Robert Rossen

Writers:

Sidney Carroll (screenplay) (as Sydney Carroll), Robert Rossen (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
3,781 ( 386)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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
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Storyline

"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

Taglines:

A motion picture that probes the stranger... the pick-up... why a man hustles for a buck or a place in the sun! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Sport

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cliff Robertson lost the role that went to Paul Newman, Jack Lemmon having already declined the part. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Fast Eddie: You saw me beat Minnesota Fats for eighteen thousand dollars.
Bert Gordon: Look, you wanna hustle pool, don't you? This game isn't like football. Nobody pays you for yardage. When you hustle you keep score real simple. The end of the game you count up your money. That's how you find out who's best. That's the only way.
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Soundtracks

Louisville Dixieland
(1961) (uncredited)
Music by Dan Terry
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User Reviews

 
A Talented Loser
29 October 2005 | by LechuguillaSee all my reviews

It's an intriguing idea. If a person is talented, that person should be a winner. And, we would expect a loser to be someone who is not talented. But the idea that someone could be a talented loser is a paradox, a contradiction that doesn't fit into the conventional mindset of American culture, and is the basis for "The Hustler", a character study of an ace pool player who can't seem to win respect from his peers.

The pool player is (Fast) Eddie Felson (Paul Newman). The plot moves along by means of four secondary characters with whom Fast Eddie interacts: (1) his manager, Charlie; (2) the veteran pool player, Minnesota Fats; (3) Eddie's girlfriend, Sarah; and (4) the money man, Bert Gordon.

"The Hustler" is very much a product of the late 50's and early 60's, when progressive filmmakers were trying to buck the staid post WWII era, with its reactionary Cold War mentality that resulted in strict conformity to established American values. In this film, Bert Gordon and Minnesota Fats represent the establishment. Eddie Felson is the loner, up against the establishment; he's the renegade kid, out to beat the system. Yet, at every turn, the establishment beats Eddie, one way or another. His idealism is useless. He must conform to the establishment's rules, expressed in the film as "character", or give up his dreams.

The film is therefore very cynical and incredibly cold. From start to finish, there's not an ounce of humor. It depresses the spirit. But the film is a very good metaphor for a terrible era wherein societal repression was the norm.

While the story's main character may be a loser, the film itself is a talented winner. The excellent B&W lighting, together with a jazzy score, create an effectively somber and downbeat tone, consistent with the oppressive political atmosphere of that era. The dialogue is sparse and incisive. And the acting is persuasive. Paul Newman is convincing, as are the secondary characters. I especially liked the performance of Jackie Gleason, who comes across as suave, serious, and in total control, a great contrast to his comedic side, in "The Honeymooners".

"The Hustler" is depressing and grim. But the film is very well made. It entertains in ways that are obvious, and educates in ways that are subtle.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 September 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Robert Rossen's The Hustler See more »

Filming Locations:

Yonkers, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

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

Company Credits

Production Co:

Rossen Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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