The movie "The Hustler" (1961) is credited with keeping pool and billiards alive in North America for the decades that followed it's release (after having been in decline for the decades that preceded it).
"The Hustler" depicts the story of a local small-time pool hustler "Fast Eddie" Felson, who strives to join the ranks of high-stakes professional hustling and achieve his ultimate goal—to beat the pool player "Minnesota Fats".
For the sequel, see the pool movie, "The Color of Money" (1986).
The Hustler Movie
Robert Rossen's The Hustler is a billiard and pool movie that is high in artistic quality and high in historical importance to cue sports.
Below is a review by [Ron Enderland](/users/ron-enderland "Ron Enderland Billiards) that was originally published in the January 1996 issue of billiard magazine "Player's Choice".
1961 was a year for quite a few events of significance. For instance, Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth for the first time. The Berlin Wall was constructed. Roger Maris hit 61 home runs. Great doings, indeed.
Pool players know the most important event of the year, though. 1961 was the year that a movie entitled The Hustler was released.
The Hustler, as you know, is the story of Fast Eddie Felson, a pool shark who makes his living bouncing along from town to town, separating the local yokels from their money. He is accompanied by his partner, Charlie Burns, who helps bait the pigeons. Felson and Burns blow into town looking for action. At the Ames Pool Hall, they hear for the first time of a never beaten pool player by the name of Fats. Minnesota Fats.
The rest of the movie is devoted to Felson's quest to defeat this seemingly undefeatable foe. Along the way, he encounters Sarah Packard, an unhappy dame with a taste for whiskey. Their lives are intertwined for a while, until another passenger decides to climb aboard their juggernaut of fate: Bert Gordon.
Bert Gordon is a gambler. He convinces Fast Eddie that they can grow rich together. Of course, Gordon would grow richer faster at 75% to Eddie's 25% cut. Eddie eventually agrees, with the aid of a couple of broken thumbs (provided anonymously, courtesy of Gordon's goons).
The movie climaxes with the final showdown between Fast Eddie and the Fat Man. In case there are a dozen or so out there who haven't seen this American Classic, I won't reveal the ending.
The question is, what makes this such a great flick? Well, there's great acting provided by the likes of Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, George C. Scott, Piper Laurie, Myron McCormick, and even the Raging Bull, Jake LaMotta!
In addition, there's a story line which is believable, but at the same time out on the edge enough to hook those of us who always wanted to hit the road and hustle for a living. You see, Fast Eddie Felson is the rebel in all of us. He doesn't hit a time clock, he doesn't get to bed early, he doesn't even pay the taxman. He just shoots pool. He's not perfect, mind you. His first match with Fats reveals his shortcomings.
However, he manages to improve himself through adversity. At the end of the movie, we see the Eddie Felson who is the graduate of life's bitter school of experience. We see a man who has developed character through harsh affliction.
Another thing that makes this motion picture outstanding is the abundance of great lines. Lines like these:
Burns to Felson: "This place looks more like a morgue to me. The tables are the slabs they lay the stiffs on."
Pool hall manager to Felson: "No bar, no pinball machines, no bowling alleys, just pool. This is Ames, Mister."
A newly shaved and spiffed up Fats to a nearly comatose Felson after playing straight pool for twenty five straight hours: "Fast Eddie, let's play some pool!"
Gordon to Fats: "Stay with this kid. He's a loser."
Sarah Packard to Gordon: "There's no tomorrow anymore. You own all the tomorrows because you buy them today. You buy them cheap."
And, of course, the final lines of the movie: "Fat man, you shoot a great game of pool."
"So do you, Fast Eddie."
The authentic trick shots were provided courtesy of one Willie Mosconi. He contributed his knowledge of the game (and a few whacks at the cue ball) to help make this great film believable.
Fifteen years ago, I read an interview with Minnesota Fats in Rolling Stone. He didn't like the movie. "I never lost a money match in my life!" he was quoted as saying. Well, Fat Man, maybe The Hustler didn't please you. I'm genuinely sorry for that.
You see, every other would-be shark or stiff in the world who's seen this piece of American literature would disagree. At the end of the movie, when Fast Eddie walks out of Ames Pool Hall, that's us.
We've all been manhandled by various thugs, been swindled by assorted Bert Gordons, made our own mistakes. But, in the end, we're determined to walk out standing tall.
The The Hustler was released on 1961-09-25 and is classified within the following genere(s) Drama, Sport, Classics, Romance. The The Hustler was given an MPAA rating of: NR (Not Rated) It's country of origin is United States (USA), and it's main language is English (but available in many other languages such as Spanish and French). The movie runs 135 Minutes long.
The Hustler Trailer
The Hustler - Director
The The Hustler was directed by Robert Rossen.
The Hustler - Writer
The The Hustler was written by Screenplay by Sidney Carroll and Robert Rossen, based on the novel by Walter Tevis.
The Hustler - Tagline
A motion picture that probes the stranger... the pick-up... why a man hustles for a buck or a place in the sun!
The Hustler Plot
Small time hustler Eddie Felson ("Fast Eddie") has a lot of talent but a self-destructive attitude and an over-sized bravado. His aim is to break into the big-leagues and he plans to achieve this by beating the legendary "Minnesota Fats" in a high-stakes match.
Failing, he goes on the road with a new and ruthless road manager Bert Gordon to learn the ropes. 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. But Felson soon realizes what it might cost him to make it to the top.
Will he decide that this is too steep a price to pay in time to save himself?
The Hustler - Production Companies
The The Hustler was produced by: Rossen Films (Rossen Enterprises)
The Hustler Distributor(s)
The The Hustler was distributed by:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
The Hustler Awards
The Hustler has been nominated for over 30 awards, and has won over 25% of them. Some of the more notable awards won by "The Hustler" include:
British Academy Film Awards - Best Film
British Academy Film Awards - Best Foriegn Actor
Academy Award - Best Art Direction (Black-and-White)
Academy Award - Best Cinematography (Black-and-White)
Laurel Awards - Top Male Dramatic Performance (Paul Newman)
Laurel Awards - Top Female Dramatic Performance (Piper Laurie)
Laurel Awards - Top Male Supporting Performance (Jackie Gleason)
Laurel Awards - Top Cinematography (Black and White)
Mar del Plata International Film Festival - Best Actor (Paul Newman)
National Board of Review Awards - Best Supporting Actor (Jackie Gleason)
New York Film Critics Circle Awards - Best Director
Writers Guild of America Awards - Best Written American Drama
In June 2008 the American Film Institute (AFI) released its "Ten top Ten"—which featured the best ten films in each of ten "classic" American film genres. The movies were chosen based on polling over 1500 people from the creative community. Robert Rossen's "The Hustler" was acknowledged as the sixth best film in the "sports" genre.
The Hustler Filming Locations
Edison Studio in New York City, NY
The Hustler Quotes and Lines
I'm shooting pool, Fats. When I miss, you can shoot.
Paul Newman as Fast Eddie
The Hustler Soundtrack
There is no official soundtrack of "The Hustler" movie, the music was done by Kenyon Hopkins. There is one uncredited piece of music used:
Music by Dan Terry
The Hustler Cast
The Hustler Movie Cast
In summary, The Hustler features Paul Newman as "Fast Eddie", a top-notch pool hustler who gets cocky and challenges Jackie Gleason as "Minnesota Fats" to the match of his life.
The cast of main characters in "The Hustler" is as follows:
Jackie Gleason as Minnesota Fats
Paul Newman as Eddie Felson
George C. Scott as Bert Gordon
Piper Laurie as Sarah Packard
Myron McCormick as Charlie
Vincent Gardenia as bartender
Charles Dierkop as poolroom hood
Stefan Gierasch as Preacher
Clifford Pellow as Turk
Michael Constantine as Big John
Jake LaMotta as bartender
Murray Hamilton as Findley
Willie Mosconi (cameo appearance) as "Willie", stakeholder for Fats and Eddie's games.