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The Hustler

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The Hustler, starring Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott
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The Hustler, starring Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott

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Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) shooting pool in "The Hustler"

Buy from Amazon The Hustler – Blu-ray – Paul Newman heads a superb cast featuring Jackie Gleason, George C. Scott and Piper Laurie in the riveting film that received an Academy Award nomination as Best Picture of 1961 and brought all four of it’s Oscar nomination. Newman (Best Actor nominee) is electrifying as Fast Eddie Felson, an arrogant, amoral hustler who haunts backstreet pool rooms fleecing anyone who’ll pick up a cue. Determined to be acclaimed as the best, Eddie seeks out the legendary Minnesota Fats (Gleason, Supporting Actor nominee), who’s backed by Bert Gordon (Scott, Supporting Actor nominee), a predatory gambler.

Eddie can beat the champ, but virtually defeats himself with his low self-image. The love of a lonely woman (Laurie, Best Actress nominee) could turn Eddie’s life around, but he won’t rest until he beats Minnesota Fats, no matter what price he must pay.


Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason about to shoot pool in "The Hustler"
  • Paul Newman (The Cincinnati Kid) … Eddie Felson
  • Jackie Gleason (The Honeymooners, Gigot) … Minnesota Fats
  • Piper Laurie (Carrie) … Sarah Packard
  • George C. Scott (Patton) … Bert Gordon
  • Myron McCormick (No Time for Sergeants) … Charlie Burns
  • Murray Hamilton (The FBI Story) … Findley
  • Michael Constantine (Don’t Drink the Water) … Big John
  • Stefan Gierasch (Jeremiah Johnson) … Preacher
  • Clifford A. Pellow … Turk (as Cliff Pellow)
  • Vincent Gardenia (Little Shop of Horrors 1986) … Bartender

Trivia for  The Hustler  (1961), starring Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason

  • When Fast Eddie prepares for his first matchup against Minnesota Fats, his manager sits down in front of a poster depicting Willie Mosconi, 14-time world champion in billiards from 1941 to 1957. About ten minutes later, Willie himself makes a cameo as the guy who holds onto the bet money. His character name is also Willie.
  • All the pool shots in the movie are performed by the actors themselves (Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason) except one: the mass shot (cue ball sends two object balls into the same pocket), performed by Willie Mosconi.
  • Fast Eddie is from Oakland, California.
  • When first approached to play the role of Fast Eddie Felsen, Paul Newman couldn’t accept it because he was scheduled to begin filming Two for the Seesaw (1962) with Elizabeth Taylor. When Taylor was held up with the filming of Cleopatra (1963), Seesaw was postponed and Paul was able to do this film.
  • Cliff Robertson lost the role that went to Paul Newman, Jack Lemmon having already declined the part.
  • While at the Kentucky Derby, the race announcer lists some of the horses racing. One of the horses named is :Stroke of Luck”. “Stroke of Luck: was one of the titles considered for the film as a result of studio fears that the title “The Hustler” would create negative connotations with prostitution.
  • There’s a misconception that the character Minnesota Fats is based on the real Minnesota Fats (Rudolf Wanderone Jr.). Actually, the character came before the real pool champion.
  • Kim Novak told Larry King on his television show that she turned down the role of Sarah Packard eventually played by Piper Laurie.
  • The words Sarah writes on the mirror are “perverted”, “twisted” and “crippled”.

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