The Hustler announced Paul Newman as a major Hollywood talent, and took pool from the backrooms of billiard halls to the forefront of cool for American youth. While this is a Newman vehicle, the supporting cast is simply put, amazing. Jackie Gleason (The Honeymooners) plays a legendary pool player with aplomb, while George C. Scott (Patton, Dr. Strangelove) plays a bankrolling villain that will leave your skin crawling.
Much like James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, Newman’s “Fast Eddie” is a symbol of 60’s youth: cool, but aimless and filled with anger. An entire generation of men found themselves in Fast Eddie, little wonder then why it is still considered one of the 60’s most influential movies. Even though the movie revolves around pool, perhaps the pivotal scene revolves around a poker game, where Bert calls Eddie a “born loser”. Eddie will do everything to prove Bert wrong, even if it means losing everything.
The Hustler film summary
Fast Eddie” Felson (Paul Newman) is a pool player with a big attitude. After years of beating small-time players, making $20 a game, he decides he’s good enough to challenge the legendary Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason). Over the course of a marathon 40 hour game, Fast Eddie wins some and loses some, but at one point is up nearly $18,000. Driven be his arrogance however, Fast Eddie doesn’t know when to stop and ends up losing everything but the original $200 he came in with. Dejected and angry, Felson once again goes back to small-time pool hustling.
After receiving the financial backing of Bert (George C. Scott), they travel to Louisville where Felson overcomes an early loss to win $12,000, only keeping $3,000 though because of Bert’s terms. Driven by an animal hunger, Fast Eddie mistreats his girlfriend in the most carnal of ways, leading her to kill herself. All that is left for Fast Eddie is revenge. He challenges Minnesota Fats once again to a winner-take-all pool game. Will Fast Eddie get his revenge? Will he find peace? One thing is for sure, The Hustler will leave it all on the table.
Ready to fall for The Hustler?
The Hustler became an instant classic in the 1960’s thanks to its worldwide success. Carried by strong performances from the relatively new at that time Paul Newman, in his first major performance, and industry heavyweight Jackie Gleason in a role that no one would have expected, The Hustler caused audiences around America to pick up a pool cue and fancy themselves as the hero or the villain of the pool room. No matter how old you are, The Hustler is the embodiment of Hollywood-cool and is not to be missed.