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

The Hustler

Current Status
In Season
Paul Newman, Michael Constantine, Jackie Gleason, Murray Hamilton, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott
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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