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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hustler (1961), 7 Dec. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Hustler [VHS] (VHS Tape)
If it was perceived by the critical fraternity that Paul Newman was more impressive in The Colour of Money, The Hustler's sequel, then a great travesty has been done. Coupled of course with the loss of this film, in the best picture stakes, to West-Side Story.

The Hustler was Robert Rossen's cinematic masterpiece, and for all the stylistics and photography employed, it is the contest of pool talent over self-assurance that makes the lasting impression. Newman sneers, barks and grins his way through a consistently impressive script with deadbeat conviction, all the while teetering on the brink of Rossen's stark landscapes, and infinitely cynical world.

Newman is at times breathtaking as 'Fast' Eddy Felson, a young and talented pool hustler in search of the holy-grail, the legendary Minnesota Fats. He plays a hustler with aplomb, he roars anger and he whimpers in defeat.

A strong supporting performance from Piper Laurie, adds a romantic interest, and ultimately highlights the importance of love over the all-mighty dollar. George C. Scott impresses as a sociopath gambling-addict, and yet somehow Newman is the only one you see. Piper Laurie's melodramatic character traits threaten to upstage, but it's Newman all the way.

Jammed full of quotable lines, this film sometimes risks losing itself in the moment, but it is the very excellent script, and Newman's performance as one of the greatest anti-heroes to date, that sets this aside as one of the greatest post-noir achievements of our times. Whatever you think of West-Side Story there is no denying the more enduring of the two, or indeed the more affecting. Whatever you think of West Side Story, this is glorious.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood At Its Moody And Subtle Best, 22 Feb. 2015
Keith M - See all my reviews
Watching again (for the first time in over 20 years) writer-director Robert Rossen’s tale of Paul Newman’s pool hustler 'fast’ Eddie Felson I was quite taken aback by just how considered and subtle (some might say pedestrian!) The Hustler is – to the extent that its slow, character-based (130 minute) drama would quite probably not see the light of day were it to be looking for Hollywood studio backing today. Where, for me, the film scores particularly highly is in its predominantly understated mood – accentuated by the gritty, realism of Eugen Schüfftan’s evocative (frequently claustrophobic) black-and-white cinematography and Kenyon Hopkins’ lazy, jazzy score – and a whole series of outstanding character acting performances.

That said, Rossen actually wastes no time in pitching us into the 'action’ – indeed, probably the film’s most dynamic sequence – as (15 minutes in) Eddie and manager Myron McCormick’s phlegmatic Charlie have confronted ('Western style’ – 'I hear you’ve been looking for me’) Jackie Gleason’s calm, assured chain-smoking pool legend Minnesota Fats and embarked on a 24-hour marathon session at the game. It’s at the conclusion of what is an extended, brilliantly cinematic montage sequence that we realise that Eddie’s cocky egocentricity is actually a mask for a troubled, confused obsessive, who soon falls for kindred spirit, Piper Laurie’s fragile, pitiable alcoholic (and aspiring writer), Sarah. During Eddie and Sarah’s initial meetings, Rossen’s film particularly calls to my mind the Marlon Brando and Eva Marie-Saint relationship from On The Waterfront (and it is very easy to imagine Brando in the Fast Eddie role) – two troubled souls struggling to express their true feelings for one another. Then, enter the couple’s nemesis – George C Scott’s brilliant turn as the smooth-talking, exploitative gambler (and ‘mentor’ to Eddie), Bert Gordon. Thereafter, the trio of Eddie, Sarah and Gordon deliver some of the film’s finest scenes – brooding and increasingly dark and disturbing.

It’s a film whose third quarter could (arguably) have done with some pruning (maybe 20 minutes cut), but (for me, at least) the turns by Newman, Laurie and (particularly ) Scott and Gleason – the latter whose dialogue is restricted to a handful of lines but whose facial expressions are pure cinematic poetry – are more than enough to carry the film. It’s one of Hollywood’s most underplayed, and subtly emotive, mood pieces and features an ending entirely consistent with these qualities.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Paul Newman at his best ( as ever!! ), 2 Feb. 2004
J. C. Eames "Winston" (Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Hustler [1961] [DVD] (DVD)
I loved this film. Paul Newman is one of my favourite actors, after seeing 'Cool Hand Luke' I was hooked. His presence on screen is bedazzling and although he did eventually win an Oscar I still feel he is somewhat underrated. Another film which I would recommend with Paul Newman in is "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid".
During my earlier years I was somewhat of a pool fanatic and frequently visited the nearest pool table to me. The film came on late night television and I was late getting up the next day but it was oh so worth it! This is what lead me to searching out a copy of my very own. The acting is superb, almost enigmatic of Paul Newman, the story brilliant and moving, the pool is awe inspiring and the DVD is not bad at all either. With a few extras including a demonstration of all the trick shots used in the film, performed by the world trick shot champion, this is not one to be missed. The semi true story of Fast Eddie Felson is essential viewing for any fan of the green baize and a great film besides. Well worth the money and I'm sure a worthy addition to anyone's DVD collection.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...One Ball...Corner Pocket...", 1 Mar. 2012
Mark Barry "Mark Barry" (London) - See all my reviews
*** THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE 2011 BLU RAY REISSUE - UK Standard Issue and the US 'Book Pack' Version ***

Back in the mists of 2008 - I reviewed the 1951 Sci-Fi classic "The Day The Earth Stood Still" and the UK-Only DVD series it belonged to - 20th Century Fox's "Cinema Reserve" series (type in Barcode 5039036025935 into the search bar above and you'll get the review). "The Hustler" was Number 10 in that series (Barcode 5039036028455). I actually collected all 17 of those titles in their fetching numbered steel tins before Blu Ray saw the series off. And of the lot - this 1961 black and white gem starring Paul Newman and Jackie Gleeson had by far the most immaculate print.

Well - I'm glad to say that the BLU RAY reissue of "The Hustler" is the same - obviously using the same restored elements. The print on here is TRULY GORGEOUS and adds hugely to your enjoyment of the dingy smoke-filled poolrooms and dodgy characters therein. And the copious amount of extras that accompanied the original DVD release are all here too.

The only real downside is that the US version (again on 20th Century Fox) is in a beautifully done 'book digipak' (non-region coded so it will play on all players). You can buy it as a separate entry - but it's almost double the cost. Shame the UK issue wasn't given the same luxury presentation (it comes in a standard plastic clip case).

To sum up - if you just want a basic version then the UK issue at just over seven quid will do.
But if you want "The Hustler" in its best form (and looking luxurious too) - then pay up more and plumb for the US 'book' version.

It's highly recommended either way...


PS: 20th Century Fox's "Cinema Reserve" Series was originally released in the UK only on DVD between 2006 and 2007.
Each was in specialist 'steel tin' sets. Numbered on the spine - "The Hustler" was part of that series.
Here is the full list in alphabetical order:

1. Number 003: All About Eve (1950)
2. Number 013: Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls (1970)
2. Number 007: Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid (1969)
4. Number 019: Cleopatra (was due 2007) - CANCELLED
5. Number 001: The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)
6. Number 009: The Fly (1986 Remake)
7. Number 010: The Hustler (1961)
8. Number 011: Kagemusha (1980)
9. Number 004: Laura (1944)
10. Number 005: Lifeboat (1944)
11. Number 018: The Magnificent Seven (1960) (was due 2007) - CANCELLED
12. Number 016: Midnight Cowboy
13. Number 002: My Darling Clementine (1946)
14. Number 006: Patton (1970)
15. Number 008: The Seven Year Itch (1955)
16. Number 017: Some Like It Hot (1959)
17. Number 012: Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
18. Number 015: Valley Of The Dolls (1967)
19. Number 014: The Verdict (1982)

Cinema Reserve on BLU RAY:
As of July 2012 - "All About Eve", "Patton", "Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid", "The Hustler" and "Tora! Tora! Tora!" are all issued in BLU RAY 'Book Pack' packaging in the USA. Now budget-priced at $10 each - all are also REGION FREE issues - so will play on all BLU RAY machines. The corresponding UK issues are just in standard clip-case packaging.

"The Day The Earth Stood Still", "The Seven Year Itch", "The Fly", "Midnight Cowboy" and "Some Like It Hot" are in standard clip-case packaging in the USA...

"My Darling Clementine", "Laura", "Valley Of The Dolls", "Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls" and "The Verdict" are unissued as yet on BLU RAY

"Lifeboat" has been given a UK BLU RAY release on Eureka's "Masters Of Cinema" series (licensed from 20th Century Fox).
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Then and now, 2 Jan. 2008
Mr. J. Cook - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Hustler [1961] [DVD] (DVD)
American films now are routinely full of violence and swearing (though curiously never all that much sex) but are at heart almost invariably juvenile, soft-headed and sentimental. I was shocked by this film - which contains one "Bastard!" and some off-screen violence portrayed by means of a scream - because of the brutal adult honesty of the dialogue and the tough bleak view of human existence. Paul Newman is mesmerising, a great actor and a true star; the histrionics of Damon, Di Caprio, Pitt etc laughable by comparison. George C Scott is maybe even a shade better. The film lets the viewer inhabit a world he wouldn't otherwise know: the seedy smoke-filled pool rooms, gambling tables, bars of a nameless American city. It's not the glossy - and now so often CGI-d - fantasy world that American film has shown ever since I've been old enough to go to the cinema. And the pool itself is truly exciting: the exquisite editing never lets you forget the battle of wills behind every shot. For me it's the first masterpiece of that great age of American cinema that reached its height in the `70s and as iconic a representation of American life at mid-century as `Death of a Salesman'.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book & DVD, 5 Sept. 2007
Steven R. Mirante "stemir2004" (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
Ordered the Book & DVD combo. Great price and great idea. How many times have you seen a movie based on a book and wanted to read the book to see if it was better than the film? For less than the price of the book alone you can get both the book and the movie based on it. Even though I'm in the states, I can play region 2 dvd's on a region free dvd player and save a lot of money ordering them from
Cheers from the US!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better on bluray, 23 Oct. 2013
S J Buck (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've watched the film twice since I bought the bluray, because firstly its a great film anyway, and secondly on bluray it looks stunning. The black and white photography looks like it was filmed yesterday rather than 52 years ago.

The cast are superb with Paul Newman and the leading actress (whose name escapes me) giving great performances, ably supported by George C Scott who plays the agent/promotor/manager. As somebody else in another review said the film isn't really about Pool. In fact large chunks of it are in the realm of kitchen sink drama, and thats no bad thing as it contrasts starkly with the Pool room scenes.

The film is in 2.35:1 ratio and the extras, which I watched some months ago are pretty good. But the main reason to get this is the bluray transfer, which, for a film of this age is one of the best I've seen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best, 23 Nov. 2013
W. Rodick (Cheshire, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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I've had the Special Edition dvd for quite some time now. A perfect recording of the widescreen BBC broadcast. Or so I thought. Even upscaled the movie is grainy when projected large screen. This blu-ray is immaculate monochrome.

As I was watching it I was struck by just how intimate the movie is. Conversations in bed, over dinner, resting on a bar, leaning against a pool table: the faces are this movie. The dialogue still hits home as a philosophical treatise.

But on this viewing age was the 9 ball corner pocket. Charlie's age. 'Get old and die' Fast Eddie Felson tells his partner, his fellow con-man. It's only recently that I've begun to ponder the abyss that comes after life. Only age brings that perspective. The Hustler is about youth. And being a man. Finding yourself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant, modern and disturbing, 18 Dec. 2011
William Cohen (London) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Hustler [1961] [DVD] (DVD)
This film starts quiet laconically - two travelling salesmen on a trip in the middle of nowhere in America - one of them gets drunk and plays badly at pool. Then the whole thing turns on its head and we're in a bleak monochrome underworld. The characterisation is superb - I didn't think there were characters like this on screen in the early 1960s. Observing as a wannabe screenwriter, gesture tells eloquent stories and the action is gripping. It went places I didn't expect it to go, and the lines and lyricism of the story kept me engrossed. Unforgettable acting and a chronicle of a way of life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the superb Paul Newman as charismatic as ever ..a true legend, 10 April 2012
This review is from: The Hustler [1961] [DVD] (DVD)
Paul Newman is electrifying as Fast Eddie Felson, an arrogant, amoral hustler who haunts backstreet pool rooms fleecing anyone who'll pick up a cue. Determined to be acclaimed as the best, Eddie seeks out the legendary Minnesota Fats, who's backed by Bert Gordon, a predatory gambler. Eddie can beat the champ, but virtually defeats himself with his low self-image. The love of a lonely woman could turn Eddie's life around, but he won't rest until he beats Minnesota Fats, no matter what price he must pay.
what can I say?
What a fantastic film this is! From start to finish my attention was fully on this movie! The performances were just superb Paul Newman as charismatic as ever shows why he will remain one of the biggest film legends. There was not a bad bit of acting and being in black and white just added to the films atmosphere!The actual pool matches are fantastic especially with Minnesota Fats,played by the great Jackie Gleason
Laurie is outstanding as his lush of a girlfriend, and Scott suitably oily as the promoter who takes him under his evil wing.
This is not really about pool although it's mainly set in seedy poolhalls.
It's about character, or the lack of it, and the search for it, as cocky hustler Newman learns the hard way that there is a cost to everything.
This film has 2 Academy Awards - Cinematography, Art Direction-Set Decoration (B&W),
But it's Director Robert Rossen who should have won Academy Awards
his eye for sordid detail and burned out lives which is what really catches the eye here.
he turn (The Hustler) in to a dazzling cinematic triumph.
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The Hustler (Cinema Reserve Edition) [DVD]
The Hustler (Cinema Reserve Edition) [DVD] by Robert Rossen (DVD - 2006)
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