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The Hustler

2004-11-10 16:14:57.2069+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

The local flick arthouse has a program where they ask locals of note to recommend a film that was important to their artistic development, find a print of that film, and then have a little intro and Q&A following about why it was an important film. Michael Ondaatje[Wiki](of The English Patient[Wiki] fame, among other works) suggested The Hustler[Wiki], saying that it was the film that made him aware that movies were crafted and didn't just fall from the sky.

We got off our lazy butts last night to head into San Rafael to see it.

It's one of Paul Newman[Wiki]'s early roles, and he's backed up by a great cast. Newman plays Eddie Felson[Wiki], a cocky young poolhall hustler who takes on the great Minnesota Fats[Wiki](played by Jackie Gleason[Wiki], and the name predates the real life pool player), and loses. The movie explores comfortable routine against ego and that drive to win, and demands more from its audience (and actors) than modern day films do: understanding the nuance means keeping track of dollar amounts from scene to scene, and there's a lot that happens in long reaction head shots with no dialog.

Ondaatje commented that Walter Tevis[Wiki], the author of the original book, said that all of his novels were about alcoholism. Addiction is a big part of the story, but it isn't a morality play, which is refreshing in these days of heavy-handed scripts.

I hadn't seen it before, but several people in the audience mentioned that seeing it on film in its full width (I think it was 2.40 Panavision) was a completely different experience than the video. The print was really nicely restored, although since seeing a few films on DLP I'm now totally conscious of gate weave on films that use a lot of static shots, and I'd imagine that any letterboxed version on a home theater would miss some of the detail that comes out in the film.

Anyway, recommended, especially if you can catch it on film. And now we have to rent The Color of Money[Wiki], and probably track down both books too.

[ related topics: Books Psychology, Psychiatry and Personality Movies Bay Area Theater & Plays Video Gambling ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-10 16:41:15.802446+00 by: ziffle

I have begun to think that only movies made in black and white have much value (I suppose there might be exceptions ... but) as they were not politically correct and well written and often, heroic...

I also have wished I could reread Donald Duck Comic books and go back reexperience my fascination with Uncle Scrooge - I always liked him and wondered why he was treated so poorly. I was always fascinated by the idea of a safe full of cash. (sorry for the wandering)


#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-10 17:42:44.86528+00 by: petronius

I enjoyed the bimonthly Uncle Scrooge books myself. I liked it when he would go swimming in his Money Bin, filled with paper and coin money. But what i really liked was the other character in each issue, Gyro Gearloose, the inventor for hire. I thought that would be a fine career, having people come in and ask to make some new machine. I particularly liked his assistant, a little robot with a lightbulb for a head. When the assistant needed to solve some problem he would screw in a bigger bulb to solve it faster. A bit like adding RAM, I guess.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-13 14:01:12.609604+00 by: polly

yep, i thought everyone had seen "color of money". at the time that i saw it, thought it was pretty good, really liked paul newman. NOW, i can't believe i sat through the whole thing, lol. i am amuzed with myself when i rewatch movies that i saw YEARS ago and remember how impressed i was when i saw the movies the first time. now, i'm thankful i didn't pay to see the movies in the first place and wonder how i sat through the movie!

i guess my favorite oldie is "thunder road" and "alls quiet on the western front". i'll watch those many times.