DVD Review: The Hustler (Two Disc Collector’s Edition)

Paul Newman. What can you say? The man is not only an unbelievable actor, but a spectacular human being and from all accounts just a really nice guy. Not only has he been involved in politics, but gives until it hurts to charities. He started The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for disabled children, all of the profits for his Newman’s Own food company go to charity, and he sends money to help impoverished countries in Africa.

I first saw The Hustler when I was 17, and said, “Hmm. That was long and depressing…but good.” (I was 17.) The reason that I saw it was that I had gone to see The Color of Money, and thought it was a very good movie, and wanted to see where the Fast Eddie Felson character had started…and I liked to play pool. I have watched the film several times since then and have changed my opinion. It is long, yes. It is depressing, yes. But it is a very good movie. What I realize now is that it is not so much about pool, but about self destructive people; set in the seedy, smoky, alcohol filled world of pool halls.

Paul Newman plays Fast Eddie Felson, a pool hustler who thinks he is the best player in the world, and who wants to beat the reigning pool champion Minnesota Fats, played by Jackie Gleason.

Newman was nominated for an Academy Award (for the second time) for his role as Fast Eddie. He would not win, but 20 some years later when he reprised the role in The Color of Money, he would win the little, bald, gold one. Apparently he was the losingest actor in the history of the awards, so much so that they gave him a lifetime achievement award a few years before he won a trophy on his own. (Paul wouldn’t say it, but I will: IN YOUR FACE, ACADEMY AWARDS!) But because he was tired of losing, he decided not to attend the ceremony that year–oops.

This edition is bursting at the seams with extras. There are several segments featuring interviews with the cast and crew: one on pool hustling and a few on pool shots. Also included is the A&E Biography of Paul Newman. There is what they call an Audio Commentary, but it is actually just interviews with the cast and crew–many of the comments are taken from the video segments that are also included!

Randy Otteson
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