The Hustler: Kobal Collection
Bruce Fretts
June 07, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Hustler

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
performer
Paul Newman, Michael Constantine, Jackie Gleason, Murray Hamilton, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott
director
Robert Rossen

We gave it an A

Paul Newman won his Best Actor Oscar for its 1986 sequel, ”The Color of Money,” but he executed an equally award-worthy turn in Robert Rossen’s jazzy, boozy pool-hall morality play. As Fast Eddie Felson, a small shark who learns to swim with the big fish (namely, Jackie Gleason’s Minnesota Fats), Newman bravely reveals the demons lurking beneath his devil-may-care exterior. He inhabits the role so naturally that it’s surprising to learn from the accompanying doc that it was once earmarked for another blue-eyed performer, Frank Sinatra. For The Hustler: Special Edition, a nifty picture-in-picture feature allows real-life pool champion Mike Massey to explain how Newman (who had never picked up a cue before technical adviser Willie Mosconi trained him) pulled off the film’s many trick shots. Alas, his acting tricks can’t be so easily explained.

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