Scorsese, Paul Newman, Tom Cruise

the_hustler_dvd_20-_20poster1  The-Color-of-Money-1986

Oh, how I love to shoot pool.

Scorsese, Newman, Cruise–a trifecta for me. After a revisit of both films this past fortnight, I am pleased to share my opinions with you. Rack ’em up!


The Hustler is a modern classic. It is twice the better film than The Color of Money, and it has nothing to do with Scorsese. The acting and the script makesThe Hustler better. I would bow to Scorsese for creative directorial shots, however. The Hustler is art while The Color of Money is a good film. Personally, Paul Newman’s Oscar win for The Color of Money was a gift because he lost in 1961 as best actor in The Hustler. In 1961, West Side Story won everything. I adore West Side Story, so I can’t complain too much, but I do contend that to rectify the situation, when The Color of Money came around, they gave Paul his just desserts. After all, Paul Newman was nominated four times for best actor and never won. Here was Hollywood’s chance for a fast shot. Fast Eddie wins in the end–a pseudo “lifetime achievement award”. Be my guest and disagree.


George C. Scott played the stake horse, the pimp, the devil, who backed neophyte Fast Eddie Fulson (Newman). He was fantastic! Piper Laurie played her character, Sarah, to perfection. What a tragic character. Rarely had an alcoholic, female character presented on the screen from the early 60s evoke greater compassion and authenticity (I can only think of 1962, Days of Wine and Roses, Lee Remick). Jackie Gleason, who was an outstanding pool player, portrayed fastidious Minnesota Fats flawlessly. Willie Marsconi, the great pool player, not only coached Paul Newman how to shoot pool, he appeared in the film. You can see the white-haired master as the setter in the film. When they filmed the  great trick shots, it was Marsconi who shot them. Paul Newman spent four months learning how to shoot pool. When Fats and Eddie played the “session” for over 24 hours, it was cineagraphic suspense, bar none.  


The Color of Money(1986) filmed by Martin Scorsese was at its best when you looked at the cinematography. For instance, in the opening of the film, Scorsese narrated while explaining the rules of 9 ball. Close ups focused on cigarette smoke filtering up. Watch for the perspective of the balls falling into the pocket. Nice close-ups, nice fore/background overlaying. The pleasure of the film was anticipating Scorsese’s next shot.


Fast Eddie, twenty-five years later teaches the new maverick, Tom Cruise, how to hustle. Tom does what Tom does best: he brings raw energy to his character. Vince plays obnoxious to perfection. Fast Eddie calls him a “flake” meaning, Vince is so cocky, anyone would throw money down on the table to see him get beat. This makes Vincent valuable to Fast Eddie. Fast Eddie becomes the George C. Scott character, Bert. The love interest for Vince is Carmen, portrayed by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Hard-edged and smart, I thought she was the weak link in the film. Can’t say the middle of the film engaged me when the drama of the love-triangle played out. It was when Paul Newman and Tom Cruise were left to fill the screen with their energy that the film shined. In The Hustler, the beginning sequence was suspenseful. You have to wait until the last third of the film in The Color of Money to have your breath suspended.  A cool cameo comes from a Philadelphia hustler, Amos, portrayed convincingly by Forest Whitaker.

Both films are worth watching. Both are satisfying. Start with The Hustler for good old-fashioned suspense and drama.

Do you remember Piper Laurie as the mother in Brian De Palma’s, Carrie? AAAAGGGG.


I’m off to shoot pool.

cue ball

14 thoughts on “Scorsese, Paul Newman, Tom Cruise

Add yours

  1. I’ve been looking forward to this article since you mentioned it in the comments earlier this week and you certainly didn’t disappoint.

    I’m a huge fan of Paul Newman, especially in his 1960’s heyday, although I’ve still to catch up on a lot of his later films, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen “The Color of Money” in its entirety. I am surprised “The Hustler” doesn’t get more recognition as one of the great American films; I’ve seen very few movies that contain such memorable dialogue and have such an emotional impact, and as you rightly point out all four principal cast members are fantastic.

    One last point on “The Hustler”, it was only earlier this week that I found out that the original Walter S. Tevis novel, was adapted more than once, with the game changed from pool to poker, in “The Cincinnati Kid”, which starred Newman’s friend and friendly rival Steve McQueen. I think I might have to watch that one and compare notes.

    Have a nice weekend.


    1. Thanks for you kind comments. I didn’t know that about The Cincinnati Kid–I’ll have to put that on my list, too. I’m so impressed with PN. He never disappoints!


  2. Hello, Cindy:

    Very nice looking site. Clean and very appealing.

    I couldn’t agree more with your critique of ‘The Hustler’. My first guest post over at Ruth’s ‘FlixChatter’.

    Where Robert Rossen’s original is an art film and B&W masterpiece. Scorsese picks up the pieces of “Fast Eddie”‘s life. Asks “What if?”. And expounds on that premise to great effect. A good film and decent enough sequel, but nowhere its shadowy, smoke filled, atmosphere awash roots.

    Also. Good catch by Paul S.on the similarities between ‘The Hustler’ and ‘The Cincinnati Kid’. Well worth the effort of seeking out and enjoying!


    1. Chris, you won’t be disappointed. Truly The Hustler is up there in my top 10 all time favorites. Really a thrilling film. Watch that first before The Color of Money. Would love to know how you liked them. 🙂


  3. Great post Cindy. I love both of these films. The Hustler is simply a classic while I was still thoroughly impressed with Scorsese’s sequel. The criticism I have, is that while it’s entirely understandable that Scorsese wanted to avoid a formulaic, conventional showdown, the ending of Colour of Money is a little underwhelming. Other than, though, it great stuff and Cruise held himself well against the marvellous talents of Newman.


    1. Hi Mark, thanks for coming around. Yes, I can’t decide which of Newman’s films I love more–the Hustler or Cool Hand Luke. I think like the story line better in the Hustler. I just loved the black and white pool rooms, the smoke, Jackie Gleason, the love affair, the message, the ending….I’ve always loved the camera in Scorsese’s hands–the opening sequence with the cut of the ball, his close ups and vivid colors are impressive. Tom Cruise on his testosterone high, Paul Newman the mentor. Yes, the ending was problematic for me, too. Such a build up that peetered out.


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