Skip to main content

The Film List Project #9: The Hustler

Here's a thought: If there isn't a guy named Charlie who gets continuously yelled at, is it really a classic Hollywood movie?

This week, I watched the 1961 classic Paul Newman film The Hustler.  I thought I was going to hate it so much, but (spoiler alert) I didn't.

I have to admit, this isn't my kind of movie. Usually, I really hate sports movies because of how similar the plots usually are. However, The Hustler does the exact opposite of everything that makes me angry about sports movies.

The movie starts out with Newman's character, Fast Eddie Felson, on the quest to make his life legendary. He's arrogant and naive and driven. In other words, he's the protagonist in a sports movie. Instead of progressing in his quest to win, he actually grows as a character.

Eddie falls in love with Sarah, a hard drinking, enigmatic woman who stands up for herself and what she wants. She gives Eddie a run for his money, living fast and working for what she wants (she goes to college!).

She stands by him when he gets his thumbs broken and can no longer play pool, but she also tells him he needs to get back to doing what he loves. For what seems like the first time in his life (at the very least the first time in the movie) he listens to someone else. He decides to stop feeling sorry for himself and heads to Louisville to hustle a rich billiards player.

Sarah continuously clashes with Eddie's manager, ultimately leading to her demise.

Eddie goes back to fight not for his legacy, but for Sarah's, which is the ultimate change in character for Eddie. He fights (well, plays) for something greater than himself, which officially earned him my respect.

This movie just goes to show you that you can't judge a movie by its genre. The movie is also gorgeously designed and shot, earning it two Oscars in its day.

It's funny how a movie that I thought was going to be a waste of my time became something that made me think. Now I'm questioning everything. Also, can someone teach me how to play pool?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Talking to Myself in the Mirror

I think it's a pretty safe bet that a lot of aspiring actors/writers/directors/filmy people practice their future Oscar speech in the mirror as kids. I did. Who am I kidding? I still do. It comes with the territory. My mirror talks go, ahem, went (who am I kidding? go) further. Sometimes, I do my makeup while talking to Barbara Walters. Other days, brushing my hair turns into a podcast interview. Most of the time, though, I rehearse what I'm going to say to my heroes. These hypothetical moments are incredibly important, and I can't afford to say anything stupid, so car rides, showers, and mornings getting ready are devoted to preparation. This probably makes me sound crazy. The word "narcissist" may also come to mind. I think one of my heroes would have appreciated both the crazy and the narcissism in this bit of oversharing, though, but we lost her this morning. One of my first posts on this blog was a tribute to Carrie Fisher. I read it over this afternoo

The Film List Project #2: MASH

Did you know MASH was a movie before it was a TV show? I didn't. Maybe that's a well-known fact. Maybe I'm very out of the loop. Anyway, I watched MASH this week. I'm just discovering Robert Altman, the director of the film. He made a movie in 1975 called Nashville , which I sort of felt obligated to watch since that's my hometown. I loved the film, especially because it had so many interesting characters mashed together. MASH  charmed me for the same reason. I've never been one for war films (this is set during the Korean War), but I was fascinated by the band of arrogant, witty surgeons in the film. It really didn't feel like a war film, to be honest. It felt like the Korean War was just where they happened to be. That feeling makes sense when you realize that these men and women are just trying to feel that way themselves. I don't have any personal experience with war, but I have read a few books about the subject, fiction and nonfiction, and

Cameron Crowe Ruined My Life

Believe me when I say that it pained me to type out the title to this post. Cameron Crowe is one of my very favorite filmmakers. To me, a guy who can write teenagers who are real people, really capture the full spectrum of human emotion, and incorporate a great soundtrack into his work is a real genius. Though it initially made me feel warm, fuzzy, and hopeful, a recent late night viewing of 2005's Elizabethtown  ended up making me a little nervous. I realized that Crowe was just like everybody else. Now, this probably doesn't make sense to those of you who admire his work. As a writer and filmmaker, Crowe definitely has a unique voice and vision that helps his work connect with all kinds of audiences. That's precisely the problem. Last week I wrote a post about how movies are only a reflection of life and not actually true to life itself. In the post, I mentioned that filmmakers are just one person with one perspective, and that is absolutely true of Crowe. In Crow