14 September 2009 | freemantle_uk
The Hustler is seen as a well respected, getting Oscar nominations and making Paul Newman's name as an actor. Here is a film noir style film with gritty, flawed characters, looking at working class culture. It made during a great period of cinema.
The film tells the story of a small time pool hustler, Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman), who had been traveling around America, making a lot of money and wanting to challenge Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason), the best pool player in America. After initial success, Fats beats Eddie, with him being battered and beaten. He ends up forming a relationship with an alcoholic woman, Sarah (Piper Laurie), a woman who is beaten down by life. They both help each other and seem in love, but Eddie does the only thing he can do, hustle, getting himself in dangerous. In a bar Eddie meets Bert Gordon (George C. Scott), a gambler who offers to back Eddie up and give him his chance to beat Fats.
The film is considered by some a sports movie, but the film isn't. It is a character drama, it is about the broken American dream (like the writer John Steinbeck focused on). Many of the characters are flawed in some way. Eddie is a very arrogant character, who doesn't know where to stop and is almost on the path to self-destruction. Sarah is an alcoholic, who has given up on her dreams. Bert Gordon is a user, a man who only thinks of his own self-interest, an good villain. The Hustler strongest element is the acting, with top performance from all the actors. They made you believe in their characters. The director, Robert Rossen, does a good job, using fading shots, strong fixed shots, adding to the atmosphere and does well filming the pool scenes.
They are some problems with the film. It is a little too long and seems unfocused. Just cutting a few minutes properly would have made this a better film.
I personally the grim and gritty reality that this film sets out. This is a worthy film from the film noir school.