Cast & Crew
George C Scott
Newly arrived in New York from California is "Fast" Eddie Felson, a brash pool shark who makes his living hustling in billiard parlors around the country. Taking on unwary opponents, he allows them to win until the stakes are high enough; then he makes his killing and leaves town. Eddie has come to New York with his longtime crony and manager, Charlie Burns, to challenge Minnesota Fats, the undisputed champion pool player in the country. For 36 hours the two men battle, and, at first, game after game goes to Eddie. Then, filled with too much liquor and conceit, he eventually falls apart and ends up beaten and broke. Following the bout, he wanders into an all-night coffeeshop and picks up an alcoholic, disillusioned cripple named Sarah Packard. For want of anything better to do, he moves in with her and lives a day-to-day existence by hustling in third-rate pool halls throughout the city. One night he challenges the wrong sucker, another young hustler he meets in a waterfront dive. Although Eddie wins, four hoodlums grab Eddie, throw him into the men's room, and break both his thumbs. Once recovered, Eddie aligns himself with a coldblooded gambler, Bert Gordon, who agrees to arrange bigtime matches in return for 70 percent of the winnings. Accompanied by Sarah, Eddie and Bert travel to Louisville, Kentucky, where Eddie takes on Findlay, a millionaire playboy addicted to billiards. Though the trip ends in victory for Eddie, it ends in tragedy for Sarah. Badgered by the ruthless Bert, who demands complete dominion over his client, Sarah admits defeat and slashes her wrists with a razor. Shattered by the realization that his egotism has destroyed his one chance for happiness, Eddie returns to New York and again challenges Fats. Eddie outshoots, outmaneuvers, and outthinks his opponent until Fats finally concedes defeat. Victorious, Eddie denounces Bert, refuses to give him a cut of the winnings, and walks out of the pool room.
George C Scott
Gordon B. Clarke
Don De Leo
Martin Nallan Jr.
Best Art Direction
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actor
Best Writing, Screenplay
Pop Culture - THE HUSTLER
The Hustler and its characters have become so firmly identified with professional pool that since its release in 1961, both the public and many pool players, even pros, believe the characters of Fats and Fast Eddie are based on real people, although the novel's author, Walter Tevis, insists they were entirely fictional. That didn't stop pro player Rudolph Walter Wanderone from taking the name Minnesota Fats after the movie became famous, which upset and angered Tevis. Wanderone was not a particularly good pool player but a relentless self-promoter who was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame for his contributions to popularizing and legitimizing the sport. So pervasive was the myth Wanderone perpetrated that his 1996 Associated Press obituary claimed Tevis had based the character on him, even while acknowledging that Wanderone took the name after the movie came out.
Another pool player who benefited from the book and movie, though not to the extent of Wanderone, was Eddie Parker, who became known as "Fast Eddie" like Newman's character. His 2001 Associated Press obituary said Parker's "billiards play was said to have inspired the book and movie The Hustler." The article then went on to say Paul Newman starred in the film "in the role of Mr. Parker." Another player named Ronnie Allen allegedly claimed the character of Fast Eddie was based on him, despite Tevis's protestations.
Newman played the character of Fast Eddie Felson again as an older man in Martin Scorsese's The Color of Money (1986). After six previous Academy Award nominations for Best Actor, and one honorary award for his lifetime achievement, Newman finally won the statue for this role.
Jack Lemmon, who was reportedly considered for the part of Fast Eddie, played pool to help his energy during production of Days of Wine and Roses (1962) and insisted the producer have a pool table available for him on the set. "Seriously, it's not just The Hustler's influence," Lemmon told an interviewer. "On my last picture, I found that if I played pool between scenes it kept up my emotional level."
by Rob Nixon
Pop Culture - THE HUSTLER
Trivia - THE HUSTLER
There are various versions of the history of pool, but all agree that its origins can be traced back to lawn games, much like today's croquet, as early as 1090. Sometime prior to 1500, the game was brought indoors and eventually onto a table, with a green cloth to simulate grass. (One source cites the first definitive account of the existence of a billiard table was in a 1470 inventory of the possessions of King Louis XI of France.) The game apparently took off in popularity when French King Louis XIV and his court became frequent players.
The art of "hustling" may be traced back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when players with colorful names began traveling the country, playing for money, pretending at first to be mediocre, then upping their skills once their opponents were suckered into raising the financial stakes. Hustling pool became more prevalent and popular during the Depression years as a way of making a living. But as with Fast Eddie in this movie, a hustler's career had a short shelf life; even if he kept moving, his reputation and true identity eventually caught up to him.
In the Kentucky Derby scene, a horse is announced by the name "Stroke of Luck," one of the titles considered for the film. Studio execs feared The Hustler might carry negative connotations of prostitution.
Robert Rossen became ill while making The Hustler and only lived long enough to complete one more movie. Although not well received at the time of its release, many film scholars and critics now consider Lilith (1964) to be Rossen's best film.
Although he originally refused to testify to the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, Rossen later admitted to having been a Communist and in 1953 named 57 others as party members.
George C. Scott had been nominated for Best Supporting Actor once before, for Anatomy of a Murder (1959). But this time he sent the Academy a letter declining the nomination, the first actor ever to do so. Scott found the whole process demeaning and nothing to do with the actual work, especially criticizing the practice of campaigning for awards. "I came to see it as a fawning, dizzy 'meat contest' staged every spring. The process was not something I could live with comfortably." When the Academy notified him it was his performance and not himself that was being nominated, he replied that he did not reject the nomination out of petulance or impudence and meant it as a constructive move. A friend of Scott's later noted that the actor (who refused his Best Actor award for Patton, 1970) felt the Oscars "were just a way for the motion picture companies to make more money on the pictures and had little other value."
Joanne Woodward later said that although she was ashamed to admit it, when her husband failed to receive the Best Actor award, she was "furious and upset and in tears."
Although this movie finally gave Piper Laurie the chance to be regarded as a serious and accomplished actor, she got married shortly after and quit acting to raise her children. She did not make another film for 15 years, when she returned as the demented evangelical mother in Carrie (1976), garnering the second of her three Academy Award nominations, this time for Best Supporting Actress (her third was for her supporting role in Children of a Lesser God, 1986).
Both Cliff Robertson and Jack Lemmon were reportedly considered for the lead. Kim Novak told TV host Larry King she had turned down the role of Sarah.
Rossen asked pool legend Willie Mosconi for casting advice. Mosconi initially suggested his friend Frank Sinatra for the part of Eddie.
Jackie Gleason made his film debut playing a character called "Tubby" in Navy Blues (1941), but his film career never really took off and he turned to television, first as the star of the comedy series The Life of Riley (a role he played for only one year before it was taken over by William Bendix). On his weekly series The Jackie Gleason Show, which debuted in 1952, he introduced a sketch segment about a New York bus driver and his long-suffering wife. The Honeymooners became one of the most popular parts of the show and was expanded to a half-hour situation comedy in 1955.
The Hustler finally gave Gleason the chance to shine as a dramatic actor, and he played several notable film leads and other roles throughout the remainder of his career as well as continuing to appear on television. One of his most famous parts was that of Sheriff Buford T. Justice in the Smokey and the Bandit film series of the late 1970s-early 1980s. One of his best performances was his final role, as Tom Hanks' difficult father in Nothing in Common (1986). Gleason died in 1987.
Eugene Schuftan (sometimes credited as Eugen Schufftan, among other variations of this name) first worked as a cinematographer on the movie Menschen am Sonntag (1930), which also gave a start to such later film artists as Curt and Robert Siodmak, Edgar G. Ulmer, Fred Zinnemann, and Billy Wilder.
This was only the fourth film in which Dede Allen was credited as editor, but it garnered her much praise and attention, as well as a nomination from the American Cinema Editors organization. She started out as a messenger at Columbia Pictures in 1943 and got her first chance as a film cutter because so many of the male technicians were away at war. Her first editing credit was Because of Eve (1948), a low-budget exploitation flick, but she soon rose to become a trusted collaborator with such directors as Robert Wise, Arthur Penn, Sidney Lumet, and Warren Beatty. For many years, she has been one of the top people in her profession and one of a handful of women to have sustained successful careers behind the camera. When Paul Newman took to directing later in his career, he remembered the fine work Allen did on The Hustler and hired her for Rachel, Rachel (1968) and Harry and Son (1984).
Boxer Jake LaMotta plays a bartender in one of the pool scenes. Robert De Niro played LaMotta in Martin Scorsese's acclaimed boxing drama Raging Bull (1980).
Famous Quotes from THE HUSTLER
CHARLIE (Myron McCormick): (observing a pool room) Quiet.
EDDIE (Paul Newman): Like a church. Church of the good hustle.
CHARLIE: Looks more like a morgue to me.
EDDIE: Eddie Felson. I shoot straight pool. Got any straight pool shooters in this here pool room?
BIG JOHN (Michael Constantine): Want some free advice?
CHARLIE: How much'll it cost?
EDDIE: That old fat man. Look at the way he moves, like a dancer. And those fingers, those chubby fingers. That stroke, like he's playing the violin or something.
EDDIE: This is my table, man, I own it.
EDDIE: Two ships that pass in the night should always buy each other breakfast.
EDDIE: You look different. More relaxed.
SARAH (Piper Laurie): The lights. And the scotch.
EDDIE: The name's Eddie.
SARAH: The name should be Eddie.
EDDIE: I could always get us a bottle.
EDDIE: Fifth of scotch.
SARAH: What do you want me to do, just slip out in the alley? Is that it?
SARAH: I've got troubles. And I think maybe you've got troubles. Maybe it'd be better if we just leave each other alone.
EDDIE: Everybody wants a piece of me.
SARAH: What happens when the liquor and the money run out, Eddie? You told Charlie to lay down and die. Will you say that to me, too?
BERT (George C. Scott): One of the best indoor sports, feeling sorry for yourself. Sport enjoyed by all. Especially the born loser.
BERT: Word's out on you, Eddie. You walk into the wrong kind of place, they'll eat you alive.
EDDIE: When did you adopt me?
EDDIE: You were right, Bert. It's not enough that you just have talent. You gotta have character, too.
EDDIE: Fat man, you shoot a great game of pool.
FATS (Jackie Gleason): So do you, Fast Eddie.
Compiled by Rob Nixon
Trivia - THE HUSTLER
The Big Idea - THE HUSTLER
After acclaim on the stage, Paul Newman's film career started badly with the lead in a poorly received sword-and-sandals epic The Silver Chalice (1954). That bomb may have been enough to ruin any career, but Newman bounced back two years later with an outstanding performance as real-life boxer Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956). Better parts followed, and by 1958 he was garnering great notices for his work in four films, including his Oscar®-nominated role in Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958). But although big-budget pictures followed, Newman felt himself to be in an acting slump and in need of a career-defining part. He was persuaded by veteran maverick director Robert Rossen that a gritty, downbeat script about a pool shark was what he needed.
Robert Rossen started in motion pictures as a writer in the late 1930s, finding a natural niche for his talents and sensibilities in the socially conscious dramas produced by Warner Brothers. In the late 40s, particularly after the multiple awards and great acclaim for his hard-hitting adaptation of Robert Penn Warren's political novel All the King's Men (1949), he emerged as one of a new breed of directors able to command a greater sense of independence and control over their work by being their own writers and producers as well. But the 50s had not been the boom years he expected. By the end of the decade, owing in part to difficulties with the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, Rossen had released only five pictures, successful enough in varying degrees either critically or commercially. But he was scouting around for a personal project he could truly put his mark on. He found it in Walter Tevis's relatively obscure novel about pool hustlers.
Rossen apparently had great confidence in the project's ability to become an important, high profile film, and communicated that confidence to the actors he was soliciting for the cast. "Rossen expected it to be the critical and commercial hit that it was," according to Piper Laurie. "I think he said something about we were all going to win Academy Awards. I thought that was sort of crazy, but sweet."
Piper Laurie was another participant in this project who needed something new and challenging, a role that would really display her previously untapped gifts as an actress. Talented, intelligent, and with an intense presence she had rarely been able to display on screen, she had started in films in 1950 and spent the decade with only a handful of opportunities to be more than pretty window dressing or a winsome ingénue. With The Hustler, she immediately found something worthy. "I knew it was a good script. I knew it by page 40, that there was something special about it, but I really didn't think beyond that. I made my decision to do it on page 40, even before you got to my character. I didn't even finish reading the script, as a matter of fact."
Although known primarily as a TV comic, Jackie Gleason's dramatic abilities were recognized by Rossen, who sought him for the part of Minnesota Fats. It also helped that Gleason was already a master pool player.
To help with adapting the screenplay, Rossen brought in Sidney Carroll, whose prior work had been almost exclusively for television.
by Rob Nixon
The Big Idea - THE HUSTLER
Behind the Camera - THE HUSTLER
The great pool legend Willie Mosconi was brought in as technical adviser and stand-in for the actors on The Hustler (particularly Paul Newman) in the tougher pool shots. Crew members have noted how Mosconi was similar to the Minnesota Fats character as written: well-dressed, fastidious, a player who brought a deep concentration to the game. Other than seeing his hands making some of the shots, Mosconi appears in the picture as the guy who holds the stakes in the contest between Eddie and Fats. Assistant director Ulu Grosbard said that watching Mosconi in action was "like watching a great violinist or great cellist. There was nothing he couldn't do once he went to work on that pool table."
Paul Newman had never even held a pool cue before but picked it up quickly under Mosconi's training. Newman used to go via motorcycle in disguise (to avoid being mobbed by fans) to a girls' high school in New York to practice for many hours. He also removed most of the furniture from the dining room of the home he shared with wife Joanne Woodward to make way for a pool table and spent hours there working with Mosconi. Mosconi not only taught him how to play but how to move about a pool hall like a professional player and hustler.
Except for some shots done inside Union Station in Los Angeles, the film was shot on location in New York. The scenes of Eddie's matches against Fats were done in the famous Ames Pool Hall near Times Square.
The picture was shot by Eugene Shuftan, who had invented an optical effects process that employed mirrors to create backgrounds. According to crew reports, many of the pool room shots employed this process to varying degrees. The picture was also shot in CinemaScope, a wide-screen process usually reserved for big epics and action pictures.
Ulu Grosbard later noted that the interior of Sarah's apartment was built in a studio at 55th St. and 10th Ave. He said the actors' dressing rooms there were very small and, in his memory, without windows, "like cells," but that Piper Laurie furnished hers "as if she were going to live in it the rest of her life." It was Grosbard's impression that Laurie would sometimes spend the night there.
Laurie apparently kept mostly to herself during shooting. "It was just a working set," she recalled. "Just intense work- not particularly fun at all. I never met Gleason, although I visited the poolroom. It was fun to meet George C. Scott. It was really just a working set- some fun, some anger."
Laurie did become friendly with Newman and Woodward during shooting. At first, she was a little intimidated by his looks. The cast had two full weeks of rehearsal, and on the first day of script table work, Laurie said she found it hard to look at him. She soon got over that, however, and found him extremely easy to work with and to be around.
Laurie also learned how modest and unassuming Newman was. "He really didn't believe in himself as an actor at all. He thought he had great limitations, and owed everything to other people- the Actors Studio, Joanne- he seemed not to take credit for himself."
To achieve her character's limp, Laurie first experimented with walking around with pebbles in her shoes. "Finally, I just did it without anything, because Rossen didn't want an obvious limp; he didn't want it consistent because he felt he wanted the audience to be aware of it sometimes and not other times."
Newman and Gleason established a friendship on the set. At one point, Newman got a little cocky about his newfound pool skills and challenged the much more experienced Gleason to a $50 bet on a game. Newman broke, then it was Gleason's turn. He knocked all 15 balls in and Newman never got another shot. Gleason recalled that the next day Newman paid him off with 5000 pennies.
The Hustler was edited by Dede Allen near the beginning of her career; she is now one of the most respected professionals in her field. Allen liked working with Rossen because he was the kind of director who shot scenes from every possible angle, providing her with a wide range of cover footage that allowed for various interpretations and possibilities.
by Rob Nixon
Behind the Camera - THE HUSTLER
The Critics Corner - THE HUSTLER
"Put this high on your list of films worth seeing.... Some of the best acting to be seen in movies this year. Piper Laurie is remarkably convincing, but it is George C. Scott, as the gambler, who does most to give the film its tour de force quality." - Hollis Alpert, Saturday Review, October 7, 1961.
"Artistically speaking, it is an amusingly mangled myth, an epic in a pool hall....Newman is better than usual....There may arise a certain doubt that playing pool is as lofty a theme as Director Rossen seems to think, but he doggedly insists on the point, and in the middle of the picture he carries it with a clutch of phrases...that breathe the smoky poetry of poolrooms and ring true as a struck spittoon." - Time, 1961.
"Despite the excellence of Newman's portrayal of the boozing pool hustler, the sordid aspects of overall picture are strictly downbeat. ... Piper Laurie establishes herself solidly as an actress.... Rossen has directed with a harsh hand, developing his theme satisfactorily and setting a pattern of grimness" - Variety, September, 27, 1961.
"Paul Newman is always a dominant figure in any scene, but there is something extra this time in his intense ardor...." - Alton Cook, New York World-Telegram & Sun, 1961.
"It crackles with credible passions.... Mr. Rossen and Sidney Carroll have provided their characters with dialogue that keeps them buoyant and alive. ... Mr. Scott is magnificently malefic. When he lifts those glasses and squints, it is as though suddenly somebody had put a knife between your ribs. Jackie Gleason is also excellent - more so than you first realize." - Bosley Crowther, New York Times, September 27, 1961.
"Gleason, who fled Hollywood because he could not get good parts, covers himself with glory. Laurie gets her first chance at a serious movie part after a series of syrupy roles as a flower-nibbling enchantress." - Life, 1961.
"Rossen shows the importance of body language, of smiling confidently, of talking smoothly, of holding back the sweat - and how important to a player's style are the various props.... Exceptional editing by Dede Allen." - Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic (Simon and Schuster, 1986).
"One of the peaks in Robert Rossen's career; a purposeful examination of the world of the pool-shooters." - Peter Cowie, Eighty Years of Cinema (A.S. Barnes).
"Rossen skillfully creates the harsh and grimy city world of the pool shark, and excitingly conveys the atmosphere and tension of a game played by men whose professional reputations are at stake. Paul Newman's complete portrayal of Eddie - with self-assured pride in his talent and compulsion to prove himself the best - was supported by fine performances..." - The Oxford Companion to Film (Oxford University Press).
"This fine movie...is marred, however, by too conscious an effort at pungent dialogue and some rather murky notions of perversion and corruption. But it's a strong movie, and Newman gives a fine, emotional performance." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies (Henry Holt and Company, 1984).
"The Hustler belongs to that school of screen realism that allows impressive performances but defeats the basic goal of entertainment...Unfoldment of the screenplay, based on novel by Walter S. Tevis, is far overlength, and despite the excellence of Newman's portrayal of the boozing pool hustler the sordid aspects of overall picture are strictly downbeat." - Variety Movie Guide (Prentice Hall).
"It's hard to think of a more equivocal hero than Newman's Fast Eddie Felson...The Hustler has generated its own mythology, and Fast Eddie's alliance with Bert Gordon is said to parallel Rossen's own decision to name names in the McCarthy era...Martin Scorsese's The Color of Money (1986), which teamed up Cruise and Newman, is a case of same bloke, different hat, although it let the Academy give Newman the Oscar® it should have given him for the first film." - The Rough Guide to Cult Movies (Penguin).
"There are only a handful of movie characters so real that the audience refers to them as touchstones. Fast Eddie Felson is one of them. The pool shark played by Paul Newman in The Hustler is indelible - given weight because the film is not about his victory in the final pool game, but about his defeat by pool, by life, and by his lack of character. This is one of the few American movies in which the hero wins by surrendering, by accepting reality instead of his dreams." - Roger Ebert.
"Downbeat melodrama with brilliantly handled and atmospheric pool table scenes; the love interest is redundant." - Halliwell's Film & Video Guide (HarperPerennial).
"The supreme classic of that great American genre, the low-life film." - The Observer.
"There is an overall impression of intense violence, and the air of spiritual decadence has rarely been conveyed so vividly." - David Robinson.
"Like the best sports films, The Hustler makes the game look exciting even to outsiders, but Rossen's film is ultimately about a more universal subject than impossible breaks and the heavy spin of masse shots. Adapting Walter Tevis's novel, Rossen made a morality tale without the moralizing. As the figure attempting to force Newman to trade on his talent for a life of compromise, servitude, and easy money, [George C.] Scott may act the part of the devil incarnate, but the film gives the devil his due, even suggesting his course might be more pragmatic than diabolic. It's a world not that far removed from that of Rossen's great 1947 boxing movie Body and Soul, but the blacks and whites have faded into grays, and the strong politics have turned into disillusionment." - Keith Phipps, The Onion A.V. Club (avclub.com).
Awards & Honors - THE HUSTLER
The Hustler premiered in Washington, D.C., in September 1961. Despite an enthusiastic reception, the distributing studio, 20th Century Fox, was nervous about the picture because Rossen's previous film, They Came to Cordura (1959), had not done well. They were also worried that the pool venue would turn off female audiences. On top of that, the studio's money was being drained by the fiasco of Cleopatra (1963). The studio decided to dump The Hustler into wide release with little fanfare. Newman complained about the "limited and unimaginative" marketing campaign - a poster featuring him in a torn t-shirt. But positive reviews helped the film find its audience and better-than-expected box office profits.
The Hustler was also publicly endorsed by Richard Burton, who had worked with Rossen on Alexander the Great (1956) and had tremendous respect for the director. Burton loved The Hustler and arranged for a late-night screening party of it that generated a huge buzz in the film community.
In 1997, the film was chosen by the National Film Preservation Board to be one of the motion pictures preserved on the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress.
The Hustler received extensive awards and nominations: Academy Awards: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black and White for Harry Horner and Gene Callahan; Best Black and White Cinematography for Eugene Shuftan; nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Newman), Best Actress (Laurie), Best Supporting Actor (Gleason and Scott), Best Adapted Screenplay (Rossen and Sidney Carroll)
British Academy Awards: Best Film, Best Foreign Actor (Newman); nomination for Best Foreign Actress (Laurie)
Golden Globes: nominations for Best Actor (Newman) and Best Supporting Actor (Gleason and Scott)
Directors Guild of America: nomination for Rossen
American Cinema Editors: nomination for Dede Allen
National Board of Review: Best Supporting Actor (Gleason)
New York Film Critics Circle: Best Director
Writers Guild of America: Best Written American Drama
The film also won several other awards, including Best Actor for Newman, at the Mar Del Plata (Argentine) Film Festival.
Compiled by Rob Nixon & Jeff Stafford
The Critics Corner - THE HUSTLER
TCM Remembers Paul Newman (1925-2008) - Important Schedule Change for Paul Newman Tribute
Sunday, October 12
Sunday, October 12 Program for TCM
6:00 AM The Rack
8:00 AM Until They Sail
10:00 AM Torn Curtain
12:15 PM Exodus
3:45 PM Sweet Bird of Youth
6:00 PM Hud
8:00 PM Somebody Up There Likes Me
10:00 PM Cool Hand Luke
12:15 AM Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
2:15 AM Rachel, Rachel
4:00 AM The Outrage
TCM Remembers Paul Newman (1925-2008)
Paul Newman, with his electric blue eyes and gutsy willingness to play anti-heroes, established himself as one of the movies' great leading men before settling into his latter-day career of flinty character acting. Born in Shaker Heights, Ohio, in 1925, Newman studied at the Yale Drama School and New York's Actors Studio before making his Broadway debut in Picnic.
Newman's breakthrough in films came in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), in which he played boxer Rocky Graziano. He quickly reinforced his reputation in such vehicles as The Rack (1956) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), for which he won the first of nine Oscar® nominations as an actor.
In 1958, while shooting The Long Hot Summer (1958) - which earned him the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival - in Louisiana, he became re-acquainted with Joanne Woodward, who was the film's female lead. The two soon fell in love, and after divorcing Jackie, Newman and Woodward were married in Las Vegas in 1958. The couple appeared in numerous films together and had three daughters, which they raised far from Hollywood in the affluent neighborhood of Westport, CT.
The 1960s was a fruitful decade for Newman, who starred in such hits as Exodus (1960), Sweet Bird of Youth (1962) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969); and scored Oscar® nominations for The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963) and Cool Hand Luke (1967).
Newman's political activism also came to the forefront during the sixties, through tireless campaigning for Eugene McCarthy's 1968 presidential campaign. His association with McCarthy led to his being named on future President Richard Nixon's infamous "Opponents List;" Newman, who ranked #19 out of 20, later commented that his inclusion was among the proudest achievements of his career.
Newman's superstar status - he was the top-ranking box office star in 1969 and 1970 - allowed him to experiment with film roles during the 1970s, which led to quirky choices like WUSA (1970), Sometimes a Great Notion (1971), Pocket Money (1972), and The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972) - all of which he also produced through First Artists, a company he established with fellow stars Sidney Poitier and Barbra Streisand.
After coming close to winning an Oscar® for Absence of Malice (1981), Newman finally won the award itself for The Color of Money (1986). He also received an honorary Oscar® in 1986 and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1994. A producer and director as well as an actor, Newman has directed his wife (and frequent costar) Joanne Woodward through some of her most effective screen performances [Rachel, Rachel (1968), The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972)].
He remained active as an actor in his later years, playing the Stage Manager in Our Town on both stage and television, lending his voice to the animated features Cars (2006) and Mater and the Ghostlight (2006). Off-screen, Newman set the standard for celebrity-driven charities with his Newman's Own brand of foods, which brought $200 million to causes, and the Hole in the Wall Gang camp for seriously ill children.
TCM Remembers Paul Newman (1925-2008) - Important Schedule Change for Paul Newman Tribute Sunday, October 12
A lot was riding on The Hustler for both the director and the major cast members, and the picture paid off in a big way for all of them. Besides the critical accolades and the film's enduring popularity, it introduced the style and language of the pool hall to a wide audience and created characters so indelible that real-life pool players clamored to be identified as the inspirations for these fictional creations. The Hustler also received nine Oscar® nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor (Paul Newman), Best Supporting Actor (both George C. Scott & Jackie Gleason were honored), and Best Director. It won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography (by Eugene Shuftan) and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Harry Horner and Gene Callahan).
Director Robert Rossen had a promising career, first as a screenwriter of several notable films of the late 30s and early 40s, then as director/producer of hard-hitting dramas such as Body and Soul (1947) and the Oscar®-winning All the King's Men (1949). But it all went sour in the 1950s. Refusing to testify before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC), Rossen found himself blacklisted. Tortured by his inability to work at the art and profession he loved, Rossen relented in 1953 and confessed his former Communist Party membership, naming other party members to Congress. Though his career had recovered somewhat, his projects in the following years didn't quite live up to his earlier potential. With The Hustler he found at last a story with which to explore his characteristic themes: power, corruption, the lure and dangers of fame and success, and the study of a professional who through talent and ambition rises to hero status in his field, only to be laid low by flaws in his character and the exploitative system around him. It was a project Rossen - as co-writer, producer and director - could make truly his own, and he found the best collaborators to make it happen.
The ensemble cast also seized the opportunity to make this a breakthrough movie for them. Piper Laurie got the chance to break the mold of pretty ingénue parts she had mostly been offered for a decade. Jackie Gleason, whose film career had gone nowhere in the 50s, was able to prove he was a dramatic actor to be reckoned with and not just a popular TV comedy star. New York stage actor George C. Scott added another outstanding performance to his early film career, and garnered perhaps the best reviews of the picture (today, many people consider Scott's and Gleason's performances to hold far more interest than that of the leads).
But the person who gained the most from The Hustler was Paul Newman. Although he had survived his disastrous debut in The Silver Chalice (1954) to become a popular leading man and male sex symbol, Newman's performance in The Hustler propelled him into the top ranks of actors and made him the reigning male superstar of the next decade. The role, and Newman's performance of it, also paved the way for the rebel anti-heroes of the 60s, the tormented, less-than-sympathetic characters who would be the central focus of many films and performances by the likes of such 1970s successors to Fast Eddie as Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty.
Producer/Director: Robert Rossen
Screenplay: Sidney Carroll, Robert Rossen, based on the novel by Walter Tevis
Cinematography: Eugene Shuftan
Editing: Dede Allen
Production Design: Harry Horner
Original Music: Kenyon Hopkins
Cast: Paul Newman (Fast Eddie Felson), Piper Laurie (Sarah Packard), Jackie Gleason (Minnesota Fats), George C. Scott (Bert Gordon), Myron McCormick (Charlie Burns).
by Rob Nixon
Eddie, d'ya mind if I get personal?- Bert Gordon
Well, what've ya been so far?- Fast Eddie
Eddie, you're a born loser.- Bert Gordon
Well, thanks for the drink. I'll be going now.- Fast Eddie
Fat man, you shoot a great game of pool.- Fast Eddie
Cause, ya see, twice, Sarah... once at Ames with Minnesota Fats and then again at Arthur's, in that cheap, crummy pool room, now why'd I do it, Sarah? Why'd I do it? I coulda beat that guy, coulda beat 'im cold, he never woulda known. But I just hadda show 'im. Just hadda show those creeps and those punks what the game is like when it's great, when it's REALLY great. You know, like anything can be great, anything can be great. I don't care, BRICKLAYING can be great, if a guy knows. If he knows what he's doing and why and if he can make it come off. When I'm goin', I mean, when I'm REALLY goin' I feel like a... like a jockey must feel. He's sittin' on his horse, he's got all that speed and that power underneath him... he's comin' into the stretch, the pressure's on 'im, and he KNOWS... just feels... when to let it go and how much. Cause he's got everything workin' for 'im, timing touch... it's a great feeling, boy, it's a real great feeling when you're right and you KNOW you're right. It's like all of a sudden I got oil in my arm. The pool cue's part of me. You know, it's uh - pool cue, it's got nerves in it. It's a piece of wood, it's got nerves in it. Feel the roll of those balls, you don't have to look, you just KNOW. You make shots that nobody's ever made before. I can play that game the way... NOBODY'S ever played it before.- Fast Eddie
You're not a loser, Eddie, you're a winner. Some men never get to feel that way about anything.- Sarah Packard
Do you like to gamble, Eddie? Gamble money on pool games?- Minnesota Fats
You got talent.- Bert Gordon
I got talent? So what beat me?- Fast Eddie
Character.- Bert Gordon
When Fast Eddie prepares for his first matchup against Minnesota Fats, his manager sits down in front of a poster depicting Willie Mosconi, 14-time world champion in billiards from 1941 to 1957. About ten minutes later, Willie himself makes a cameo as the guy who holds onto the bet money. His character name is also Willie.
All the pool shots in the movie are performed by the actors themselves ('Newman, Paul' and 'Gleason, Jackie' ) except one: the masse shot (cue ball sends two object balls into the same pocket), performed by Willie Mosconi.
Fast Eddie is from Oakland, California.
Filmed on location at Julian's Poolroom on East 14th Street in Manhattan. Today, the establishment is known as Julian's Famous Poolroom.
Cliff Robertson lost the role that went to 'Paul Newman' , Jack Lemmon having already declined the part.
The Hustler was shot in New York City. Rudolph Wanderone, Jr., the professional pool player who was known as New York Fats, changed his name to Minnesota Fats after the character in this film. Fats appeared in the 1972 film The Player (see below).
Voted Best Director by the 1961 New York Film Critics Association.
Voted Best Supporting Actor (Gleason) and One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1961 National Board of Review.
Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1961 New York Times Film Critics.
Winner of the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay--Drama of 1961.
Released in United States 2008
Released in United States Fall September 26, 1961
Released in USA on video.
Selected in 1997 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.
Released in United States 2008 (Shown at AFI/Los Angeles International Film Festival (Milestones) October 30-November 9, 2008.)
Released in United States Fall September 26, 1961