Starring: Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott
Release Date: Sept. 25, 1961
Running Time: 134 min
Genres: Drama, Romance, Sport
Commentary The Hustler is a very entertaining film about a pool shark named "Fast" Eddie Felson, played by Paul Newman. The movie was adapted from a 1959 novel of the same title by Walter Tevis. Both the movie and the novel explore the issue of what makes a winner a winner and what makes a loser a loser.
Plot Summary "Fast" Eddie Felson is a pool shark who hustles amateur pool players for a living. Motivated by greed, he ends up challenging "Minnesota Fats" (Gleason) to a high-stakes match, but he loses big. After much agony, he hires a new manager, Bert Gordon (George C. Scott), who tells him that the game is more about character than skill. Shortly thereafter, Eddie meets a girl named Sarah (Laurie), who like him is rather self-destructive, drinking too much. Eddie finds he must choose between her and the game.
Cultural Significance The Hustler was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won two, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White, and Best Cinematography, Black-and-White. The movie helped launch Paul Newman's career. It was followed up by the sequel The Color of Money, also starring Paul Newman with Tom Cruise and based on another novel by Walter Tevis.