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Some people know the 1973 film, "Bang the Drum Slowly" which features Michael Moriarty, and Robert De Niro in his first major role. But 17-years before that, an adaptation of the 1956 book was performed on live television, starring Paul Newman and Albert Salmi. Anyone who thinks Newman was just a pretty pair of blue eyes should watch this, as he's on live television, pretty much from start to finish, in this riveting hour of television.
I just saw "Cool Hand Luke" for the second time - it is a fantastic film, difficult to watch due to its cruelty. Rod Steiger won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1968 - Sidney Poitier deserved it more within the same film ("In the Heat of the Night"), and Newman deserved it more still for "Cool Hand Luke." Newman's 1987 Best Actor Award for "The Color of Money" was a make-up call for past transgressions, plain and simple - that movie was pedestrian, and handing Newman the Oscar was something akin to a "Lifetime Achievement Award."
I got the notion to start re-watching "The Hustler" today because I saw a couple excerpts from "The Color of Money," the supposed "sequel" and absolute disappointment to The Hustler - the two movies shouldn't be mentioned in the same review because The Hustler is a classic; The Color of Money is lame - I remember a friend of mine saying - when it was out in the theaters in 1986, "This could have been so good, and it was such a disappointment," and I could not agree more. Tom Cruise was an embarrassment in his role, and Paul Newman played a weak character, running on fumes, when he should have played a strong mentor, running on sagesse and wisdom. The Hustler is the opposite of a "chick flick" - it's a guy's movie, and a darned good one were it not for too much lag with the scenes between Paul Newman and Piper Laurie in the middle. What a fascinating premise - a young, cocky pool shark from Oakland, California travels the country in search of Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) only to find out what it means to "win" in a high-stakes pool game, with George C. Scott lurking, and making his true entrance later in the film. What a fantastic cast this was. Forget The Color of Money; this post is about The Hustler, and what a terrific movie and cast it was. You could say both that it was a "pool movie," and that it was a drama cloaked as a "pool movie," although when the rematch occurs, all drama take a backseat to pure, hardcore pool. I'm not going to go into much more detail because if you haven't seen it, you should, and if you have, I'd love to hear what you think. What an acting career Paul Newman has had - stretching in this genre alone from Jackie Gleason to Tom Cruise. "The Hustler" - a classic from 1961. Nine Academy Award Nominations, with two wins. A wonderful, entertaining film on multiple levels.