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The Hustler (1961) and The Color of Money (1986)

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I saw The Hustler again on TV recently, I've been watching this movie every few years ever since I've been a kid.  This is what stuck out for me when I watched it this time:


I notice in these old movies they imply something without ever really saying it.  For instance, near the end Sarah (Piper Laurie) supposedly has sex with Bert (George C. Scott) and then kills herself.  But they don't show either event or even say that it occurred.  We see her body on the floor in the bathroom, but they don't give the cause.  As much as she drank, I thought for a moment that she could have just died from complications from her alcoholism.  And they never specifically say they had sex either.

Can't mention this movie without mentioning how great Jackie Gleason was (no pun intended).

Regarding the sequel, The Color of Money, I just read that it (like The Hustler) was based off of a novel.  But apparently they just added in the Tom Cruise character, sounds like the focus in the book is more on Paul Newman's Fast Eddie character.  A good couple of movies, both worth watching IMO.

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Taking a dip in the shallow end of the pool: The Hustler, because it's in black and white, cannot do justice to Paul Newman's eyes. On the other hand, there is a very long scene where he's wearing a tight undershirt, so it has that. In The Color of Money at the start, Newman is wearing a gray suit with a hint of blue that really brings out his eyes.

Getting out of the shallow end.

Newman won the Oscar for The Color of Money but he really should have won for The Hustler. His performance in the first movie is better. In The Color of Money it's great fun to watch Newman get exasperated at Cruise's character. I do love the change that comes over Newman at the end. 

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I remember when The Color of Money came out, someone complained that the ending was too abrupt, and we needed to see who won.  But I thought it was perfect -- it didn't matter if he won, the important thing was that he was back in the game.

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On 2/13/2018 at 10:22 PM, Sarah 103 said:

Newman won the Oscar for The Color of Money but he really should have won for The Hustler.

I agree. The Color of Money nomination was his eighth for Best Actor, and it was a good performance but not his personal best. In particular, he was better in The Hustler, Hud, Cool Hand Luke, and The Verdict, but he was up against some really great performances each of those times. The year before he won for The Color of Money, the Academy gave him an Honorary Oscar, which I think just kind of highlighted that he'd never won for Best Actor, so I think there was a bit of a sympathy vote going on, even though I do think he was deserving.

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I love the scene in The Color of Money when Eddie gets hustled by the character played by Forest Whitaker in a very early role for him. As one of the reviewers on IMDB put it, you can see "a history of the man's failures" written on Newman's face. 

As mentioned, the Tom Cruise character isn't in the book, which is a slow-paced mainstream novel. One of the chapters has Eddie settling down with a University professor and helping her open an antique store. He combs the Kentucky hills searching for antique quilts to resell. 

Walter Tevis also wrote The Man Who Fell to Earth, which was made into the movie starring David Bowie. 

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While singing the praises of Walter Tevis, don't forget The Queen's Gambit, a bildungsroman of an orphaned girl who learns chess from the janitor and becomes a prodigy. The novel follows her career and is as realististic in its depiction of the chess world as The Hustler was for serious pool players. It's a minor classic. 

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I haven't read the novels or seen "The Hustler" at present. But I did have the pleasure of watching TCoM, and because I had nothing to compare it with, I thought it wa a terrific film, especially with a young and annoyingly cute Tom Cruise as Newman's foil.

Many great scenes of course, but its the final scene that will always linger, with Newman telling the world "Hey, I'm back!"


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The Hustler had such a fantastic cast. Newman, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott and Jackie Gleason were all deservedly nominated for Oscars. Newman and Laurie were great as a codependent couple before that was even a phrase. Scott brought a quiet malevolence. And None of them won, but at the time, the Academy had cinematography and art direction awards for black and white, and color films. The movie won both.

It's weird, because I can't really imagine a color version of the film.

I've always thought of the original Fast Eddie as kind of a prototype for Tom Cruise' early characters. Incredibly charismatic, staggering amounts of self-confidence. Suffers a life changing setback because of his hubris, but bounces back to victory. Except in Eddie's case (compared to Days of Thunder, A Few Good Men, Top Gun etc.), his is incredibly hollow.



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