Friday, February 26, 2016

The Hustler (1961)

Happy 100th Birthday !!!!!!

The Great One !!!! Jackie Gleason, who gained stardom from his portrayal of Ralph Kramden on the amazingly great 1950s TV sitcom The Honeymooners, was born on this day in 1916. He passed away in 1987, but would have been 100 years old today and his contribution to film and TV is boundless. Article for Jackie Gleason:  

The Honeymooners: Ep. 32 - Opportunity Knocks on YouTube (Looks like there are many full episodes on YouTube):

Here is one of his most iconic performances from the movies, the Paul Newman classic, The Hustler (1961).

Run Time:  134 mins
Genre:  Drama, Sport
Format:  Widescreen Format, Black & White
Director:   Robert Rossen 
Starring:  Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie and George C. Scott Entry for the Film: Article for the Film: Article for Paul Newman: Article for Piper Laurie: Article for George C. Scott: Article for Director Robert Rossen:

Trailer for the film on YouTube:

This is the classic story about a pool shark named Fast Eddie, his collision course with rock bottom and his showdown with the legendary billiards master, Minnesota Fats, starring “Greats”, such as Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie and George C. Scott.  This film is a classic and it has everything. It has the cast, the acting, the dialogue and a fantastic story. Paul Newman does an awesome job and Jackie Gleason, who didn’t say much, spoke volumes just with his eyes and facial expressions and just elevated the tension in the scenes. It is an excellent commentary on the horrors of addictions and vices out of control, as seen through the eyes of early classically modern film and a looking glass into how society felt in the early 60s about those topics. What a life Newman’s character was living, and I mean that very loosely. Wondering where your next meal will be or where you might sleep the next night.  It shows what making deals with many devils is like.  A must see watch !!!! - Phil

Paul Newman interview on playing Fast Eddie Felson in 'The Hustler' (1961) on YouTube:

About 10 years ago myself and a bunch of friends had a movie club and we did the year 1961 and The Hustler was on the list.  Here are some of those responses to the film:

Ross Brakman:
Ever since I first heard of this movie, I just assumed it was a movie about playing pool. I had no idea the quality of execution of this film, the acting, cinematography, the story. The story of people using and abusing other people, the pretense being that it's about pool sharks, is as subtle as it is blatant, and I got completely sucked into the drama. Call it melodrama if you like, and I doubt anyone could argue against it. Ultimately, it made me want to become a pool hustler myself, despite the fact that they all clearly have terrible lives (based only on the characters in the film). 
– Grade: A

Buck Nonnemaker:
This one was packed full of talent. Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, George C. Scott all gave terrific performances. Gleason as Minnesota Fats didn’t have to say much. Just the way he looked at people and moved around a pool table spoke volumes. Scott’s sleaze ball character was brilliant as I found myself despising him for his obvious love of cash and apathy of everything else. And, of course, young “blue eyes”, Paul Newman, was a perfect fast Eddie, hot headed, showing his youth by acting invincible. The opening scene of the 25-hour pool game moved seamlessly replete with anticipation.  I did find Piper Laurie’s performance of the emotionless, on-again-off-again alcoholic strangely captivating. She gave a bit of perspective to Eddie that seemed to mature him upon her death. It’s just a shame he never got to tell her he loved her. Instead he had to tell “sleaze ball”. And yet again, love is more powerful than the fame and the fortune! 
– Grade: B+

Brad Green:
Was this Paul Newman’s finest role? The film generally boasts some great performances, and the Newman legacy clearly takes this story to another level. The plot revolves around a drunken pool hustler who struggles to find meaning in his life and elude the spiral of self-destruction that surrounds him. Newman finds a soul mate in the damaged character played by Piper Laurie, but the results are brutal and eventually tragic. Good flick. 
– Grade: A-

Jennifer Congleton:
This movie has a genuine feel to it. All of the actors play their characters so naturally. Paul Newman is such a great actor. He IS Fast Eddie Felson, the pool hustler whose talent is overshadowed by his self destruction. And I've always thought Piper Laurie was so unique. She's perfect as the misfit girlfriend with a limp and a drinking problem. Jackie Gleason nails it as the big time pool champion, Minnesota Fats. With few lines, Gleason conveys the confident intimidation that his character demands. 
- Grade: A

Click the link below at to see where you can stream or watch The Hustler (1961) online or on TV right now:

Or check out to see if this film is playing on TV/Cable in your area:

Check back in tomorrow ...................... 
For our next Film of the Day .....................

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