Wednesday, April 20, 2011

#327: The Hustler

Directed by: ROBERT ROSSEN
1961, TSPDT Rank #324

Much, much better than you or anybody else thought a pool movie could be. I guarantee it - even if you fancy yourself a pool hustler as well. This movie is riveting, spurred on by brilliant performances (especially that of Paul Newman as "Fast Eddy"), and perhaps the most crucial aspect: not much of it contains actual pool playing after the first half-hour. It is bookended by two high-tension, marathon matches against Jackie Gleason's powerful player, "Minnesota Fats". The first of these matches is fueled by Eddy's confidence and earnest will to win, and the second is fueled by a grim and vengeful desire to prove himself the best - and take the winning money. Figuring strongly in this transformation are George C. Scott's ruthless and dangerous gambler, and Piper Laurie as Eddy's girl. This movie proves a theory I have: that a movie about even the most mundane of subjects can be riveting and amazing, while many films, no matter how spectacular their premise, will crash and burn (a little pun there - it's a lot of action and/or disaster films of which I speak) terribly. For The Hustler is a great film, and far greater than a great number of films on far greater and/or exciting subjects. Highly recommended.

(Rating: 9/10)

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