The Hustler


I'm gonna beat him mister. I beat him all night and I'm gonna beat him all day.

From The Hustler

The Hustler is American drama film. This movie has been an adaptation of the novel written by Walter Tevis, the name of the novel was the same as that of the movie. The Hustler was Walter’s first novel and he followed it up with several more novels which were a source of inspiration for many movies. The Hustler was released in 1961 and was greeted with a highly positive response.

The storyline basically revolves around Fast Eddie characterized by Paul Newman who has the ambition of becoming the best pool hustler in the country. And in order to prove his worth he challenges legendary pool hustler Minnesota Fats, which is played by Jackie Gleason. The film essentially displays the trials and tribulations as well as the challenges that Fast Eddie has to face in order to be the best in an extremely interesting way.

This movie, The Hustler was produced and directed by Robert Rossen. Robert Rossen was a director of many movie masterpieces. Rossen had also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Director in 1949. The Hustler movie was one among his best stints as a director. Rossen had directed The Hustler drawing from his own inspiration as a pool hustler. This was the level of personal connection that the director held with the movie.

The main protagonist in The Hustler is played by Paul Newman who has plays the character of “Fast Eddie”. He has acted in several major films and is an Academy award winner. Paul Newman was highly appreciated for his role in The Hustler.

The Hustler was a movie which was both critically acclaimed and enjoyed an astounding commercial success. The theme of the movie was something that everyone in the audience could relate to as the central character in the movie faces hardships, discovers his ambitions overcomes them and still maintains his sense of character. The Hustler was such an influential movie that the country witnessed a striking surge in the popularity of pool. It could be called as what is a trend-setter. And it was due to the passion and energy that was put in by director Robert Rossen and actor Paul Newman.

The other characters in the film were played by Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie and George C. Scott. The heroine of the film was Piper Laurie who portrayed Sarah Packard, the crippled love interest for Newman's "Fast Eddie" Felson. Jackie Gleason played the role of “Minnesota Fats”, the legendary pool hustler who Paul Newman’s character wants to defeat.

The Hustler is an extremely engaging movie and is a classic by reputation. The New York Times was not very secretive about its appreciation and stated that the movie “speaks powerfully in a universal language that spellbinds and reveals bitter truths”. This movie when released also held its own share of surprises for its audiences. The Hustler had not one but two cameo appearances by celebrities. Pool champion Willie Mosconi acts in a scene as Willie, who holds the stakes for Eddie and Fats's games. Willie Mosconi was saved from obscurity due to The Hustler movie since the game popularity had been on a rampant decline back then. The second star was Boxing champion Jake LaMotta who had a cameo as a bartender at the bar where the pool game takes place.

The Hustler was distributed by 20th Century Fox and played a key role in the promotional activities of the film. Eventually, The Hustler went on to become one of the best films that were to be made and a genre of movie that struck a chord with the audience. The total run time of this movie is a little more than two hours, however, it continues to maintain the pace and tenacity of the story making it compelling to watch.

The popularity of The Hustler has stood the test of time and even today the demand for home videos of this movie is quite high. The Hustler is still reviewed about and written about extensively on various websites on the World Wide Web. Even the main hero Fast Eddie continues to be one of the most popular characters ever shown on screen. So if you want to take a reality check on life’s obstacles and the real fortitude that it takes for overcoming them, then you have to watch this dark stunner called The Hustler.


This is a story about ambition and drive, about love, betrayal and Honor as much as it is about gambling and taking risks. It also deals about inadequacy, egocentricity and self-doubts. ’The Hustler’ is about a massive egotistical, hard luck story of "Fast" Eddie Felson, where Paul Newman brought to life an atypical hero in the film, a charming yet essentially flawed individual. ‘Fast Eddie’ as he was nicknamed was a pool shark who worked his way up the ranks to gain a name in game, figures he must be the best player in the world, so he traveled with Charlie, his manager, to the famous Ames Billiard Hall where Fast Eddie challenges Minnesota Fats and loses after a long-winding match that lasted till morning. Minnesota Fats, played by Jackie Gleason was a renowned pool player with whom Fast Eddie Felson had a long-running obsession, he believed his reputation will be sealed if he can beat the so-called best pool player around. It is interesting to note that the Minnesota Fats character was believed to be based on one Rudolf Wanderone, a real pool hustler who was known as New York Fats before the movie, but when the movie became an overnight success he coined the nickname Minnesota Fats for himself wherein gained celebrity. He passed away a few years back, his fame actually resulting from the film. Also in the cast was Piper Laurie, who played Sarah, a wanna-be writer and an ex-prostitute, was Eddie’s love interest in the film and where he runs to in order to nurse his wounded pride. Another essential character in the movie was Bert Gordon played by George C. Scott, a wealthy but manipulative and creepy gambler, would become his promoter, so that he can mount a return to the billiards scene. The film was based on the novel by Walter Tevis with the same title.

The film was directed by Robert Rossen. The Hustler would be the second to the last film the director would ever film before he died in 1966, with his last film being Lilith (1964). Director Robert Rossen permitted the complexity of the film’s main character’s relationships a lot of time to develop, while his vigilant effort established a tangible stale and sordid sense of the film's pool hall conditions. All the way through it all, Rossen’s focal point did not just lie on playing billiards, but also on the central themes of the script including salvation and growth. But it was the billiards hall scenes that allowed the movie to become legendary.

Near the end, Fast Eddie's eventual redemption, which comes at a terrible cost, gives the film a glum and bittersweet conclusion that is essentially completely appropriate with the film’s theme. Pool champ Willie Mosconi, who was the film’s technical adviser had a cameo role in the film as well as boxer Jake LaMotta which added to the atmosphere of the film. The film’s strength lies in its script giving the characters both depth and excellent lines. The story is tense, not only due to Fast Eddie’s moves at the pool table but as well as his ever evolving relationships with the other characters. The character of Eddie can be sensitive and it is always vague whether his abilities at the table can help conquer his private demons.

The film was nominated for a variety of Academy Awards including Best Actor which unfortunately Paul Newman did not get, although many believed that he deserved the award for the role he played. He won the award for the role though in various foreign award giving bodies including BAFTA, Mar Del Plata Film Festival, while Jackie Gleason won Best Supporting Actor in the NBR Awards and the Laurel Awards. Other nominations of the film included best picture, best director, best actress, best supporting actor and best adapted screenplay, although the film did win the Oscar for Best B&W cinematography and for its art direction.

The film currently released its second digital edition thru a 2-disc DVD coined as the collector’s edition featuring it in Cinemascope. The audio can be heard through its original mono or in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix. It can also be watched dubbed in French including English and Spanish subtitles with other add-ons.

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