For many Americans of my generation who grew up in the '70s and '80s, the cultural significance of The Hustler is likely out of proportion to the number of viewings. More than anything, the film is responsible for giving the game of pool a certain glamour and for making kids aware of Minnesota Fats, who is still the only pool player I can identify by name. I don't remember when I first saw the movie, or, honestly, if I ever did, but watching it now, with memories of thinking pool was kind of cool and Minnesota Fats a kind of a legend, I was struck by how un-glamourous the game is in the film and how small the part of Minnesota Fats Jackie Gleason is, at least in terms of on-screen time. As filtered through multiple viewings, many times removed, the film is often remembered as a battle between Fats and "Fast" Eddie Felson Paul Newman , but while Felson is fixated on defeating the other man, and their first encounter is shown to be an epic 25 hour contest of wills, Gleason's Fats is, ultimately, a minor character in the drama. Indeed, when he does return in the final scene, he is summarily dismissed by a sober and focused Eddie, and made to seem small by George C. Scott's Bert Gordon, a gambler who makes his fortune, in part, by staking pool players and taking a share of their winnings in return. The film's, and in some sense Minnesota Fats' reputation, rests on the grandness of that first tangle, which editor Dede Allen compresses into about 40 minutes of screen time.
Fast Eddie's girlfriend in 'The Hustler'
The Difference Between Remembering and Watching an American Classic: 'The Hustler' - PopMatters
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The Difference Between Remembering and Watching an American Classic: 'The Hustler'
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It tells the story of small-time pool hustler "Fast Eddie" Felson and his desire to break into the "major league" of professional hustling and high-stakes wagering by high-rollers that follows it. He throws his raw talent and ambition up against the best player in the country, seeking to best the legendary pool player " Minnesota Fats ". After initially losing to Fats and getting involved with unscrupulous manager Bert Gordon, Eddie returns to try again, but only after paying a terrible personal price. Scott as Bert. The Hustler was a major critical and popular success, gaining a reputation as a modern classic.