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 email@example.com.