Go Internet shopping with the OTC Billiard Mouse for Christmas gift ideas . . . Paul Newman in The Hustler
20TH CENTURY FOX
Actors: Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C Scott
Sequel: The Color of Money
Hustler Movie Reviews:
From the Publisher
When it was first published in 1959, The Hustler was the first and the best novel written about billiards in the 400-year history of the game. The book quickly won a respected readership and later an audience for the movie with the same name starring Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason. The Hustler is about the victories and losses of one Fast Eddie Felson, a poolroom hustler who travels from town to town conning strangers into thinking they could beat him at the game when in fact, he is a skillful player who has never lost a game. Until he meets his match in Minnesota Fats, the true king of the poolroom, causing his life to change drastically. This is a classic tale of a mans struggle with his soul and his self-esteem. If Hemingway had the passion for pool that he had for bullfighting, his hero might have been Eddie Felson.Time A wonderful hymn to the last true era when men of substance played pool with a vengeance.Time Out
From All Movie Guide
As The Hustler's "Fast" Eddie Felson, Paul Newman created a classic anti-hero, charismatic but fundamentally flawed, and nobody's role model. A pool player from Oakland, California 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 Eugene Schuftan'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
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Robert Rossen - American screenwriter, director and producer Robert Rossen, born Robert Rosen, was raised by Russian-Jewish immigrants in the often violent ghetto's of the Lower East Side, New York. As a young man he was briefly a professional boxer before beginning his show business career as a director and playwright in stock and off-Broadway productions. Rossen was never a great playwright, his socialist oriented plays enjoyed some success. In 1936, after seeing his latest production The Body Beautiful close on Broadway after only four performances, Rossen signed a contract as a screenwriter with Warner Brothers. He worked there, writing over 10 features, for seven years and worked with directors such as Lloyd Bacon, and Mervyn Le Roy. His interest and affiliation with the Communist party greatly influenced his writing. By 1945, he had abandoned the party, but his early activities led to his being subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947. It took them four years to get around to trying and blacklisting him; during that time Rossen independently produced several notable films such as Body and Soul (1947) and All the King's Men (1949). In 1953, Rossen chose to "rat" on many of his peers to the Committee and so was able to resume his career. He did not return to Hollywood, but did continue making films; with some notable exceptions, such as the multiple-Oscar nominated film, The Hustler (1961), most of films were not terribly successful. In 1964, he made Lilith considered by many modern critics as Rossen's greatest film. -- Sandra Brennan
Paul Newman - In a business where public scandal and bad-boy behavior are the rule rather than the exception, Paul Newman is as much a hero offscreen as on. A blue-eyed matinee idol whose career has successfully spanned five decades, he is also a prominent social activist, a major proponent of actors' creative rights and a noted philanthropist. Born January 26, 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio, Newman served in World War II prior to attending Kenyon College on an athletic scholarship; when an injury ended his sports career, he turned to drama, joining a summer stock company in Wisconsin. After relocating to Illinois in 1947, he married actress Jacqueline Witte, and following the death of his father took over the family's sporting-goods store. Newman quickly grew restless, however, and after selling his interest in the store to his brother, he enrolled at the Yale School of Drama. During a break from classes he travelled to New York City where he won a role in the CBS television series The Aldrich Family. A number of other TV performances followed, and in 1952 Newman was accepted by the Actors' Studio, making his Broadway debut a year later in Picnic, where he was spotted by Warner Bros. executives.
Upon Newman's arrival in Hollywood, media buzz tagged him as "the new Brando." However, after making his screen debut in the disastrous epic The Silver Chalice, he became the victim of scathing reviews, although Warners added on another two years to his contract after he returned to Broadway to star in The Desperate Hours. Back in Hollywood, he starred in The Rack. Again reviews were poor, and the picture was quickly pulled from circulation. Newman's third film, the charming Somebody Up There Likes Me, in which he portrayed boxer Rocky Graziano, was both a commercial and critical success, with rave reviews for his performance. His next film of note was 1958's The Long Hot Summer, an acclaimed adaptation of a pair of William Faulkner short stories; among his co-stars was Joanne Woodward, who soon became his second wife. After next appearing as Billy the Kid in Arthur Penn's underrated The Left-Handed Gun, Newman starred opposite Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, scoring his first true box-office smash as well as his first Academy Award nomination.
After appearing with Joanne Woodward in Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! -- the couple would frequently team onscreen throughout their careers -- Newman travelled back to Broadway to star in Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth. Upon his return to the West Coast, he bought himself out of his Warner Bros. contract before starring in the 1960 smash From the Terrace. Exodus, another major hit, quickly followed. While by now a major star, the true depths of Newman's acting abilities had yet to be fully explored; that all changed with Robert Rossen's 1961 classic The Hustler, in which he essayed one of his most memorable performances as pool shark "Fast" Eddie Felson, gaining a second Oscar nomination. His third nod came for 1963's Hud, which cast him as an amoral Texas rancher. While a handful of creative and financial disappointments followed, including 1964's The Outrage and 1965's Lady L, 1966's Alfred Hitchcock-helmed Torn Curtain marked a return to form, as did the thriller Harper.
For 1967's superb chain-gang drama Cool Hand Luke, Newman scored a fourth Academy Award nomination, but again went home empty-handed. The following year he made his directorial debut with the Joanne Woodward vehicle Rachel Rachel, scoring "Best Director" honors from the New York critics as well as an Oscar nomination for "Best Picture." The couple next appeared onscreen together in 1969's Winning, which cast Newman as a professional auto racer; the motor sport remained a preoccupation in his real life as well, and he was the most prominent of the many celebrities who began racing as a hobby. He then starred with Robert Redford in 1969's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which went on to become the highest-grossing western in movie history. It was followed by 1971's W.U.S.A., a deeply political film reflecting Newman's strong commitment to social activism; in addition to being among Hollywood's most vocal supporters of the civil rights movement, in 1968 he and Woodward made headlines by campaigning full time for Democratic Presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy.
After directing and starring in 1971's Sometimes a Great Notion, Newman announced the formation of First Artists, a production company co-founded by Barbra Streisand and Steve McQueen. Modeled after the success of United Artists, it was created to offer performers the opportunity to produce their own projects. Newman's first film for First Artists' was 1972's Pocket Money, followed by another directorial effort, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. After a pair of back-to-back efforts under director John Huston, 1972's The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean and the next year's The Mackintosh Man, Newman reunited with Redford in The Sting, another triumph which won the 1973 "Best Picture" Oscar. He next appeared in the star-studded disaster epic The Towering Inferno, followed by 1975's The Drowning Pool, a sequel to Harper. His next major success was the 1977 sports spoof Slap Shot, which went on to become a cult classic.
A string of disappointments followed, including Robert Altman's self-indulgent 1979 effort Quintet. The 1981 Absence of Malice, however, was a success, and for 1982's courtroom drama The Verdict Newman notched his fifth "Best Actor" nomination. He finally won the Oscar on his sixth attempt, reprising the role of Eddie Felson in 1986's The Color of Money, Martin Scorsese's sequel to The Hustler. After starring in two 1989 films, Blaze and Fat Man and Little Boy, Newman began appearing onscreen less and less. In 1991, he and Joanne Woodward starred as the titular Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, and three years later he earned yet another Academy Award nomination for his superb performance in Robert Benton's slice-of-life tale Nobody's Fool. His films since then have been fairly sparse and of mixed quality, with Joel Coen's and Ethan Coen's The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) being at the higher end of the spectrum and the Kevin Costner vehicle Message in a Bottle (1999) resting near the bottom. Newman again graced screens in 2000 with Where the Money Is, a comedy that cast him as a famous bank robber who fakes a stroke to get out of prison.
Still, despite his movement away from Hollywood, Newman has remained a prominent public figure through his extensive charitable work; he created the Scott Newman Foundation after the drug-related death of his son and later marketed a series of gourmet foodstuffs under the umbrella name Newman's Own, with all profits going to support his Hole-in-the-Wall Gang project for children suffering from cancer. -- Jason Ankeny
Jackie Gleason - Rotund comedian-actor Jackie Gleason (born Herbert John Gleason) broke into show business at age 15 by winning an amateur-night contest and went on to perform in vaudeville, carnivals, nightclubs, and roadhouses. In 1940 he was signed to a film contract by Warner Bros., and he debuted onscreen in Navy Blues (1941). His career was interrupted by World War II, but at the war's end, Gleason returned to Hollywood, this time playing character roles in a number of films. His film work, however, lent little strength to his career, and he performed in several Broadway shows before achieving major success as the star of such TV comedy series as The Life of Riley, The Honeymooners, and The Jackie Gleason Show. It was during his reign on television that Gleason created such enduring characters as Ralph Kramden (the loud-mouth busdriver from The Honeymooners), Reggie Van Gleason, and Joe the Bartender. As a result of the comedic talents he displayed on TV, he became known as "The Great One." Gleason returned to films in the early '60s in lead roles, both comic and dramatic (he earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance in The Hustler ), but he never had as much success in movies as he did on TV. He did have some success in the late '70s and early '80s playing a good-ole'-boy Southern sheriff in the Smokey and the Bandit series of action-comedies. His long career also included a period when he composed, arranged, and conducted recordings of mood music. Gleason died in 1987 of cancer. His grandson is actor Jason Patric. -- Hal Erickson
Piper Laurie - Signed by Universal in 1950, the perky, redheaded Piper Laurie (born Rosetta Jacobs) was a welcome presence in many a musical, situation comedy and costume drama. In later years, she tended to dismiss her ingenue years, noting that she spent most of her time posing for cheesecake layouts. Thanks in great part to her devastating performance as an alcoholic in the 1958 Playhouse 90 TV drama "The Days of Wine and Roses", Laurie completely altered her cuddly image, reinventing herself as a powerful dramatic actress. She earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Paul Newman's neurotic girlfriend in The Hustler (1961), then suddenly retired from acting upon her marriage to movie critic Joseph Morganstern. She made a brilliant return to films with another Oscar-nominated performance, this time as Sissy Spacek's religious fanatic mother in Carrie (1976). Ten years and several topnotch performances later, she was honored with a third Oscar nomination for Children of a Lesser God (1986). Laurie's television work has included a co-starring assignment opposite a very young Mel Gibson in the superb Australian TV movie Tim (1979) and an Emmy-nominated stint on David Lynch's 1990 "cult" series Twin Peaks. Working only when the spirit moves her in recent years, Piper Laurie has been seen in such prestige productions as Wrestling Ernest Hemingway (1993) and White Man's Burden (1995). -- Hal Erickson
George C. Scott - An impressive, magnetic, aggressive leading man, Scott graduated from college and spent four years in the Marines, then became a teacher and aspiring writer. He began acting in campus productions, then gradually worked his way up in summer stock, off-Broadway, Broadway, TV, and films. He debuted onscreen in 1959. After starring in the title role of Patton (1970) he declared that he would not accept an Academy Award, and that the Oscars were "a meaningless, self-serving meat parade;" nevertheless, to the Academy's embarrassment, he won the Best Actor Oscar, refusing to accept it. Later he won an Emmy for his work in the TV production of Arthur Miller's The Price, but did not accept that award either. He has also directed some of his movies, beginning with Rage (1972). He married and divorced actress Colleen Dewhurst, with whom he fathered a son, actor Campbell Scott. He is married to actress Trish Van Devere. -- Bruce Eder
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