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Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Hustler (1961)

A small time pool hustler (Paul Newman) aspires to bigger things. To this end, he thinks if he can beat the legendary Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) that will put him in the big leagues. But it isn't as easy as that, possibly because as a cold hearted gambler (George C. Scott) tells him, he's a born loser. Based on the 1959 novel by Walter Tevis and directed by Robert Rossen (ALL THE KING'S MEN). This one is a keeper, a genuine classic that remains as potent today as it did in 1961. One doesn't have to like pool or even have played the game because it's not about the game. Everything falls into place from Sidney Carroll's and Rossen's precise screenplay to the razor sharp B&W Cinemascope lensing by Eugene Schufftan. And the performances! Every actor at the height of his game and none ever better than here. Maybe as good but never better. Sometimes it's easy to forget what a terrific actor Newman was because he had such a power star presence but he was an actor! Mention has to be made of Piper Laurie's beautiful and heartbreaking performance as Sarah, emotionally broken and only wanting to be loved. A great film! With Murray Hamilton, Myron McCormick, Vincent Gardenia and Michael Constantine. 

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