Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason Battle in the Pool Hall
Paul Newman’s remembered for many roles, and he’s certainly played an interesting variety of characters over the course of his career. Rarely did he get to play a character twice though. He played Lew Harper a few times, but the one people may remember the most is his role as ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson, partly because the movies are so great but also because the sequel came a full quarter century after the original. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we hop into this month’s member bonus episode kicking off a two-part exploration of ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson looking at the 1961 film directed by Robert Rossen, The Hustler.
Here’s a hint at what we talk about.
It’s an incredibly strong film, and even though it centers around the world of pool halls, it’s not strictly about pool. It’s a human story about a man trying to figure out if he’s a winner or loser and what that actually means. Paul Newman rules the film as ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson, but the entire quartet of him, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, and George C. Scott make this a film to remember.
The pool sequences are fantastic. Yes, Newman and Gleason play wonderful games of pool, but it’s also the way they’re shot and cut together. Plus, each of the five pool sequences brings a different angle to Felson’s character arc. Scott as the villain plays the perfect devil, luring Felson into a world that will steal his soul. Laurie plays as broken a character as Felson and works wonderful counterpoint to Newman. We debate and disagree a bit about her role and how it fits into the film, but largely it still succeeds.
All told, it’s a powerful film that holds up exceptionally well. We have a great time talking about it, so check it out then tune in. The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!
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