The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Video Vault: Rack ’em up for poolroom classic

  • Movie Man Will Pfeifer on "Ths Hustler."

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  • Few actors captured cool like Paul Newman in his prime, and when you put a cue stick in his hand, well, that’s tough to top.
    In 1961’s “The Hustler,” Newman plays Fast Eddie Felson, a pool player with more talent than brains. He knows how to play, but he doesn’t know how to win — or at least win in a way that won’t get his thumbs broken. Though Felson keeps smiling through most of the movie, “The Hustler” is a dark drama, all about people afraid to stop playing whatever game they happen to be obsessed with.
    The stellar cast includes Jackie Gleason, George C. Scott, Piper Laurie and — in a small role as a bartender — boxer Jake LaMotta, the inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s own black-and-white film about losing, “Raging Bull.”
    Speaking of Scorsese, in 1986, he directed “The Color of Money,” which caught up with Fast Eddie and paired him with a young hotshot, played by Tom Cruise. It’s not a bad movie, but it doesn’t come close to the bleak, black-and-white cool of “The Hustler.” Stick with the original.
    Will Pfeifer writes about older DVDs on Sundays and new ones on Tuesdays. Contact him at wpfeifer@rrstar.com.

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