Movie Review – The Hustler

Posted: June 16, 2013 in Movie Reviews
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The Hustler – The most celebrated sports movie, even considered as the finest sports movie ever made didn’t impress me as much as Raging Bull did. Both these movies are in a way similar where sport is just a metaphor. You neither see the reflection of sports they play in their life nor does their life’s reflection happen in the sport. Both the films have individuals who are desolate, feel lonely and angry at themselves. The Hustler is thus a story of an angry young man whose only aim is to win the pool.


There is no need to talk about Paul Newmans acting skills. Anyone who had seen Cool Hand Luke would know that how great an actor he is. Even I became a fan of him after watching the movie. This angry young man’s characteristic traits can be perfectly portrayed only by Newman. Like how Luke gets up after getting beaten every time here too he goes for the kill every time. Then why when Newman was appreciated in Cool Hand Luke he isn’t appreciated here.

In the midst of his thirst of winning he loses his own identity, all he thinks about is winning. Pool becomes his obsession. He becomes a winner at the cost of his own life. Fats says that he couldn’t beat Eddie in the climax. He doesn’t beat Eddie even in the beginning. It’s Eddie’s mistake to have stayed after winning. He wished to see how it feels after winning. Thus ends up losing. The opening scene too is an example for that. He plays an almost impossible shot. I say it almost impossible and not impossible because he played that shot, he didn’t just talk about it. But he tries to play it again and makes a fool of himself.

When you try to dig deep to find out what sort of character Eddie is, all you would see is a hollow restless soul. He’s a desperate individual trying to gather attention through his morosity. He’s frustrated all throughout his life. Even the feeling of winning doesn’t stay with him for a long time. After a point even that becomes boring, like how LaMotta becomes in Raging Bull. He doesn’t defeat the individuals because they are so unworthy of his caliber. The expressions by LaMotta are more profound but here we see Eddie straining himself without knowing what he’s trying to be.

He meets Sarah, a girl who walks with the limp but in first scene where Eddie sleeps in the café we see her walking without a limp. Initially I thought she is someone who’ll screw his life but only during climax I found out that it was a mistake which went unnoticed. Sarah tries to be by the side of Eddie in the beginning. She knows that he loves her but after a point she notices what a sucker Eddie is.

George C. Scott as Bert Gordon is brilliant. He might be the most straightforward character in the whole film but even a single look at him makes us fill with rage. An opportunist who goes to any extent to make money. I don’t blame him. As long as there are people who are obsessed he’ll continue to survive. He is the one who plays real games, neither Fats nor Eddie.

Paul Newman himself is a terrific pool player it seems. He is damn stylish when he fiddles his cue and marks his chalk. He’s is one of the guys who could carry any look. I find it absurd when I see Bogart in coat but Newman was effortlessly carrying both the drunkard look and slick gentleman look. We could see how angry he is when he hits the cue ball. The scene before his thumb is broken and during the climax we could see him filled with rage and hitting the balls so ferociously. Class act he is. Though the movie didn’t impress me he certainly did.

  1. jasonamoss13 says:

    Appreciate your review. (I just posted my own of The Hustler, as well.) Interesting that you don’t mention Jackie Gleason. I think his portrayal of Minnesota Fats may be the single finest performance of the movie.

  2. Vikram M N says:

    oh yeah i did miss that. May be i was too intrigued by this guy Newman

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