The Hustler

1961

The Hustler

Critics Consensus

Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason give iconic performances in this dark, morally complex tale of redemption.

98%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 44

93%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 31,200

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Movie Info

As The Hustler's "Fast" Eddie Felson, Paul Newman created a classic antihero, charismatic but fundamentally flawed, and nobody's role model. A pool player from Oakland, CA, as good as anyone who ever picked up a cue, Eddie has an Achilles' heel: arrogance. It's not enough for him to win: he must force his opponent to acknowledge his superiority. The movie follows Eddie from his match against billiards champ Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) as he falls in love with Sarah (Piper Laurie), an alcoholic would-be writer and sometime prostitute, and falls under the spell of Bert Gordon (George C. Scott), a successful gambler who offers to take Eddie under his wing and teach him how to play in the big time. However, when Sarah joins Eddie and Bert on a trip to Louisville for a high-stakes match with a dandy named Findlay (Murray Hamilton), the consequences prove tragic. Along with a classic performance by Newman, The Hustler also features turns by Scott, Laurie, and Gleason, in a rare dramatic role. Cameos from pool champ Willie Mosconi and boxer Jake LaMotta add to the atmosphere of Harry Horner's grubby production design and Eugen Schüfftan's camerawork. Director Robert Rossen, who had been working in films since 1937, was to direct only one more film, Lilith (1964), before his death in 1966. In 1986, Newman returned to the role of "Fast" Eddie in Martin Scorsese's The Color of Money, for which he finally earned an Academy Award as Best Actor. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Cast

Paul Newman
as Fast Eddie Felson
Jackie Gleason
as Minnesota Fats
George C. Scott
as Bert Gordon
Myron McCormick
as Charley Bums
Jake LaMotta
as Bartender
Alexander Rose
as Scorekeeper
Carl York
as Young Hustler
Gloria Cramer Curtis
as Girl with Fur Coat
Charles Dierkop
as Pool Room Hood
Donald Crabtree
as Pool Room Hood
William Adams
as Old Doctor
Brendan Fay
as Pool Room Hood
Don de Leo
as Another Player
Don Koll
as Ticket Clerk
Tom Ahearne
as Bartender
Charles McDaniel
as Reservation Clerk
Sid Raymond
as First Man
Art Smith
as Old Man Attendant
View All

News & Interviews for The Hustler

Critic Reviews for The Hustler

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (43) | Rotten (1)

  • Newman gives a restrained, modulated performance, an unusual one in that character development is sought and achieved with utilization only of voice, gesture, intensity.

    September 25, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Rosen, the co-author, has directed with a sure, economical hand. Newman is first-rate.

    January 27, 2016 | Full Review…
  • Newman is better than usual; Gleason, as the slit-mouthed, beady-eyed Minnesota Fats, darts among the shabby little pool sharks like an improbably agile and natty whale; and Gambler Scott looks as though he could sell hot-air heat to the devil.

    August 3, 2008 | Full Review…
    TIME Magazine
    Top Critic
  • The Hustler belongs to that school of screen realism that allows impressive performances but defeats the basic goal of pure entertainment.

    March 21, 2007 | Full Review…
    Variety
    Top Critic
  • A wonderful hymn to the last true era when men of substance played pool with a vengeance.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Derek Adams

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Under Robert Rossen's strong direction, its ruthless and odorous account of one young hustler's eventual emancipation is positive and alive.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Hustler

  • Jun 24, 2019
    A truly amazing story of a pool shark grifter who finds himself along a painful journey. One of the finest directed movies I've ever seen (Robert Rossen) as its carefully crafted in every way.
    Aldo G Super Reviewer
  • May 25, 2016
    Paul Newman is at his best playing "Fast" Eddie Felson; a degenerate gambler who shoots pool to make a living. A sad but entertaining film made even more impressive by the knowledge that Newman and Gleason mainly played the shots themselves.
    Peter B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 07, 2015
    With an exceptional cast - most especially Paul Newman and Piper Laurie in outstanding performances -, this is a profoundly compelling and richly complex character study about an arrogant, self-destructive anti-hero in search of his own "character" and finding it in a most painful way.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 21, 2013
    Before bringing down the character in the Color of Money, Newman creates a great pool shark in Fast Eddie Felson. The showdown with Minnesota Fats has a wonderful buildup and gives us good tension for the final battle.
    John B Super Reviewer

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