The Hustler

Even in black-and-white, a young Paul Newman's vibrant blue eyes sparkle against a thousand pool tables in Robert Rosen's classic piece of nocturnal Americana, which daringly brought CinemaScope out of the Wild West and Roman epics and into the dirty, nicotine-stained confines of a pool hall. Fast Eddie, brash as only Paul Newman can be, is the raucous prince of the pool halls, hustling all he meets until he's finally put in his place by the king of the cue, Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason). Tossed back into the gutter, a now-not-so-fast Eddie (helped by his alcoholic flame, Piper Laurie) aims to get back up, one mark at a time. Newman's sculpted features contrast well with Gleason's more gluttonous ones, but even more so with the carefully preserved surroundings, which dutifully capture what Gleason called “the dirty antiseptic look of poolrooms-spots on the floor, toilets stuffed up, but the tables brushed immaculately, like green jewels in the mud.”

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