Wednesday, 12 October 2011
The Hustler 
The Hustler, based on Walter Tevis’ novel of the same name, boasts of awesome pool-play, but it would be a folly and a great disservice to the movie to simply qualify it as a sports movie. This grim and deeply existentialist drama provided an incredible sketch of a man struggling to find the balance between “talent” and “character”. Paul Newman gave a stellar performance as the flawed anti-hero “Fast” Eddie Nelson, a charismatic pool player whose arrogance and lack of direction have stalled his jump from being a mere hustler to being a winner. It takes a great personal tragedy for him to finally come to terms with his gift as also his sense of being. Newman received great support from Piper Laurie as Eddie’s alcoholic girlfriend, George C. Scott as a shrewd and ruthless gambler who takes Eddie under his wings, and Jackie Gleason as the reigning pool-champion Minnesota Fats who Eddie goes after – initially for money and pride, and later in order to redeem himself in his own eyes. The wonderfully written movie was as much a Newman-vehicle as it was Robert Rossen’s – the final masterwork of the director after he relented to testify at the House Un-American Activities Committee in order to save his career (he had initially been blacklisted for having refused to do so). The terrific B/W photography memorably captured the dark and alienating pool-rooms, the movie’s hard-edged realism and Eddie’s sordid existence, while the soulful jazz-based score imbued the film with melancholy and poignancy.
Director: Robert Rossen
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Existentialist Drama/Urban Drara/Sports Movie