Starring: PN, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott, Murray Hamilton, Myron McCormick
Directed by: Robert Rossen
Summary: Yes, finally I've gotten around to sitting down and putting conscious effort into watching The Hustler. A brilliant piece of film making, a perfect forum to allow PN to showcase his talents. PN is Fast Eddie Felson, in the character's early days, when he was cocky, rough around the edges, a mirror image of Tom Cruise as Vincent (yes, I realize I should have watched this one BEFORE Color of Money....). Eddie's got a dream, to beat the best, Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason, Ralph who??). Early on, he gets his chance to challenge Fats, and sits in awe of the man's talent. He proves a worthy opponent for Fats, but gets cocky and watches the money he's won slide away from him. After a marathon day and a half pool game, Eddie is broke, and exhausted, while Fats appears ready to begin another round. The lesson is taught, but Eddie will not learn it until sometime later. He escapes from his partner Charlie ashamed that he has lost everything and meets up with Sarah (Piper Laurie) an alcoholic who spends mornings in the bus station, waiting for the bars to open, (but her Tuesdays and Thursdays going to college trying to further herself). Eddie and Sarah get involved immediately, spending their days drinking and making love. Sarah is two different people (Piper Laurie looks like 2 different actresses during the movie) sober, she's a beautiful young woman with a future, drunk she's abusive and sad, like Eddie, a loser. Eddie meets up with gambler Burt Gordon who offers him a chance to try to beat Fats again, but not before he tells Eddie the truth. Eddie's got talent, but what wins in this game, is Character. Finally, Eddie gets his chance to face his rival and the showdown begins, Eddie is wiser, but is not going to change his ways for anyone.
Quote: "Fat man, you shoot a great game of pool."
Rating: Nominated for 9 Academy Awards, but winner of only 2, for Cinematography and Art Direction, both categories which had separate awards for Black and White and Color films at the time. The big winner of the year was West Side Story. The movie is well directed and shot, the actors are all superb. 9 of 10
Trivia: George C. Scott refused his Supporting Actor nomination. Later in 1970 he would refuse the nomination and the Oscar for winning Best Actor for Patton.