The Hustler (1961)

‘The Hustler’ (1961) – Movie Review



The Hustler is a movie made in 1961 directed by Robert Rossen and starring Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason and Piper Laurie.

The Hustler is a legendary movie about pool with the marvelous atmosphere and rhythms of the movies of the Sixties, when films were beginning to change. Curiously, this film was done in black and white, which underscores its tone which was rather melancholic (yes, at that time psychodelia was beginning to take over in everything) and it is an older world in which the characters seem to live in a past that is about to crumble.

It all starts with a match between Fast Eddie (Newman) and Minnesota Fats (Gleason). By the way, the real name of Minnesota Fats was George Hegerman, and the character is based on a real person who looked very much like Gleason. Newman loses and meets a girl in a bus station who is a bit of a drunkard, and since there is a “moral”, this doesn´t bode a ver good ending.

And, we stop here with the story so, if you haven´t seen it yet, it is really worth watching.

Together they go through something like hell and Felson will try to redeem himself through drinking until, finally, it is sins and guilt that make him stronger (character, as one of the characters interpreted by George C. Scott says). This is an old style movie that I remember as having a much slower rhythm but which passed in a flash. Between drinks, in a movie in which everyone smoked (oh happy times). The Hustler is the story of a path to redemption and also to bitter maturity in which we only reach success through failure and introspection.

If you like pool, you will love this movie, but The Hustler is a very human work in which pool, only plays a secondary role. Felson only starts discovering himself through the uninspired pages of his companion who is drowning in alcohol, impossible dreams and invented stories. Together, they start their way, but only Felson will understand and reach the end of the road of failure, or perhaps, bitter success.

We are before a kind of movie making that is old fashioned: a kind of movie making in which shots were chosen carefully and risks taken in composition, a kind of movie with ingenious lines and interpretations that revealed more with gestures, a kind of movie making that one had to pay attention to because each scene contained significance and the viewer was in charge of reading the situation, a kind of movie that was a thousand times more complex and that did not judge good or bad people, that told stories that were much more human and seeked a metaphor in cinematic language itself.

Real movie making.


Robert Rossen

Robert Rossen (March 16, 1908 – February 18, 1966) was an American screenwriter, film director, and producer whose film career spanned almost three decades. His 1949 film All the King’s Men won Oscars for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, while Rossen was nominated for an Oscar as Best Director. He won the Golden Globe for Best Director and the film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture. In 1961 he made The Hustler, which was nominated for nine Oscars and won two. Rossen was nominated as Best Director and with Sidney Carroll for Best Adapted Screenplay but did not win either award.


Paul Newman / Eddie ‘Fast Eddie’ Felson

Jackie Gleason / Minnesota Fats

Piper Laurie / Sarah Packard

George C. Scott / Bert Gordon

Myron McCormick
Murray Hamilton
Michael Constantine
Stefan Gierasch
Jake LaMotta
Vincent Gardenia

See full credits >>

The Hustler (1961)
The Hustler

Movie title: The Hustler

Movie description: Fast Eddie Felson is a small-time pool hustler with a lot of talent but a self-destructive attitude. His bravado causes him to challenge the legendary Minnesota Fats to a high-stakes match.

Date published: November 1, 2020

Country: United States

Duration: 135

Director(s): Robert Rossen

Writer(s): Robert Rossen, Sidney Carroll

Cinematography: Eugen Schüfftan (B&W)

Music: Kenyon Hopkins

Actor(s): Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, George C. Scott, Piper Laurie, Myron McCormick, Murray Hamilton, Vincent Gardenia, Michael Constantine

Genre: Drama

Companies: 20th Century Fox

Our Opinion

Real movie making.


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