At times it's hard to know quite what to make of Hustle. There's certainly a good film in there, but there's also a bad one as well and Robert Aldrich doesn't make the two into something entirely cohesive. Joseph Biroc's photography is somewhat schizophrenic too. The police station interiors and night shots look great with a classic neo-noir look to them with their deep blacks, but some of the daytime work looks like painfully artificial TV movie stuff. Some of the editing is awkward and some of the writing so on the nose it's like someone decided to film `My First Cop Movie' while the references to Moby Dick (the film, not the book) come over as Symbolism 101, but then it delivers something good enough for you to want to file away and use yourself at a later date.
Where it scores is in its portrait of a job and a place where you can all too easily lose all sense of yourself, a side of Los Angeles the film captures remarkably well (there's a reason so many Angelinos move to different States or even countries). Burt Reynolds' cop is so desensitized to his job that he obliviously talks to the morgue staff about football scores while escorting a father to see his daughter's dead body, behavior no-one finds shocking in a place where people only count if they're `somebody.' In many ways the most impressive thing about it is its determination to avoid becoming a murder mystery: no-one, least of all Reynolds, has any interest in investigating a murder, and neither does the film. Instead it's more interested in the emotional fallout from the death and how it affects (or rather fails to affect) those around the death. It all ends in violence, naturally, albeit with the caveat that you end up paying for the sins you didn't commit rather than the ones you you did.
Paramount's DVD boasts a good 1.85:1 widescreen transfer but, as usual with the studio, no extras at all.