|Vintage Pulp||Jan 12 2009|
The Hustler is doubtless the best movie about pool ever made. Director Robert Rossen’s dark vision of the underground billiard circuit earned the film nine Academy Award nominations. All four major cast members received nominations for their acting, although George C. Scott renounced his. The showdown between Jackie Gleason as Minnesota Fats, and Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson, ranks as one of the most nail-bitingly tense psychological encounters ever filmed. Fast Eddie has been beating Fats’ brains out for an entire night, and he’s feeling pretty good. Come morning it looks like Fats is whipped. He looks like five miles of bad road. He takes a break, washes his hands, gets his hair-do in order. When he puts his jacket on and adjusts his carnation, Fast Eddie starts grinning. It’s over. Fats is going home. But instead Fats looks at his grinning opponent and says, “Fast Eddie, let’s play some pool.” Like the contest hadn’t even started yet. And Fast Eddie’s smile melted away. The Hustler opened in Paris as L'arnaqueur today in 1962.