Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Hustler (1961)

The Hustler,1961,USA
Director: Robert Resson
Stars: Paul Newman, Piper Laurie & George C. Scott

''You know, I got a hunch, fat man. I got a hunch it's me from here on in. One ball, corner pocket. I mean, that ever happen to you? You know, all of a sudden you feel like you can't miss? 'Cause I dreamed about this game, fat man. I dreamed about this game every night on the road. Five ball. You know, this is my table, man. I own it.''

I seem to be repeating myself in every review this ''No - Rewatch November'', but this is a film I had been dying to see for the longest time. 'The Hustler' is the 1961 classic, Robert Rossen directs a cast to die for lead by Paul Newman, and featuring the likes of George C. Scott, Piper Laurie & Jackie Gleason.

'Fast' Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) is a pool hustler, and the best in the game, he travels countryside with his partner hustling every sucker that gets in his way. On his way to the top, Eddie challenges Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason), a legendary pool player, the two play straight pool for 25 hours, which sees Eddie loose over $18,000. With his confidence gone and his life in shambles, Eddie meets Sarah Packard (Piper Laurie) and prepares to challenge Fats one last time.

I have seen the sequel to this film, Martin Scorsese's 'The Color of Money', so I am familiar with Newman's Eddie Nelson character, while it was Newman's performance in 'The Color of Money' that earned him his sole Academy Award, but I believe it was just the Academy's way of righting wrongs for not giving Newman the statue in 61 for his performance here, A truly remarkable performance that sees Newman portray an overly arrogant young man, whos ego gets the better of him, Its a tale of redemption and a tragic character piece, its saddening and yet in its own way hopeful.

The film is beautifully made, Resson's direction is impeccable as hes screenplay which he co - wrote with Sidney Carroll and adapted from the novel by Walter Tevis. While I am not a big fan of sports, I do enjoy sports films and 'The Hustler' may be one of the best I have ever seen, not because it focuses heavily on its sport but because it focuses more on its plot and its characters, sure its pool scenes are all fantastically shot and very well acted but its the scenes in between that really makes this film so impactful and longstanding, the characters are so well written and acted that when they suffer heartbreak, it just makes it all the more real.

'The Hustler's cast is absolutely impeccable as you would expect, as I already stated Newman gives a triumphant and award worthy performance. George C. Scott, whom is also one of my favorite actors, gives yet another great performance in his legendary career, Scott declined a rightfully deserved Oscar nomination for his performance in this film, A great actor who believed more in the art than the notoriety. Piper Laurie is fantastic and Jackie Gleason good in a small role, he plays a character that is the driving force behind the whole film. 

To be honest, I never expected 'The Hustler' to be such an impactful experience, sure I expected it to be a great film but not with such tragic themes, Without a doubt 'The Hustler' is one of the great sport films of all time, Brilliantly well made and phenomenally acted, a truly great experience.


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