Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Hustler

"Fast Eddie" Felson and his backer Charlie tour the seedy pool halls around the country, scrounging up a few dollars from the locals. One day, they happen into an all night match with legendary shark Minnesota Fats and after having him on the ropes, Eddie gets drunk and cocky and loses all of his money. Severing ties with Charlie, he forges a partnership with the shrewd gambler Bert as well as a tragic one with a depressive drunk college girl, while he again sets his sights on Minnesota Fats. Robert Rossen's "The Hustler" is a stark and gritty black and white film that perfectly inhabits its pool room settings. Following the anti-hero leading men of the 1950s such as James Dean and Marlon Brando, Paul Newman creates a spot-on performance of an erred hero. Additionally, he is backed up by a wonderful supporting cast including Piper Laurie as the despondent college girl/prostitute, George C. Scott as the ruthless gambler, and Jackie Gleason in a fine dramatic turn as Minnesota Fats.