Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Fast and Loose, man . . . I feel tight but good."

Vale Paul Newman

A clip from The Hustler (1961): the initial meeting and beginnings of the marathon pool session when Newman's 'Fast' Eddie Felson competes and gambles with Jackie Gleason's Minnesota Fats.

My favourite and most repeatedly watched Paul Newman film, The Hustler is a redemption tale with Newman playing a cocksure, independent outsider who learns about the costs of the political economy of pool-hall and private-home stakes-based entrepreneurialism. While Cat on a hot tin roof (1958) is more visually lush and melodramatically dynamic, The Hustler's black and white scheme seems better suited to the dark pool hall scenes, the cool jazz soundtrack and the monchromatic evil of George C Scott's portrayal of Burt Gordon: the predatory investor and pander of Fast Eddie's talent. The suicide of the lame alcoholic Sarah, played by Piper Laurie, as she recoils in self-disgust from Gordon's 'management' of Fast Eddie haunts and angers him, and drives the redemption narrative.

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