Jubilee of The Hustler

On September 25, 1961, Robert Rossen's film "The Hustler" was released in American cinemas. The film premiered in Asheville, North Carolina a day earlier.

The film by Robert Rossen is based on the novel of the same name by Walter Tevis, published in 1959.

Many who have watched this film, including me, are wondering: do the actors themselves perform billiard tricks or do professional understudies do it for them? So: all the billiard shots in the film are performed by the actors themselves (Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason), with the exception of one: the massé shot (cue ball sends two object balls into the same pocket), performed by Willy Mosconi. Willy Mosconi won the title of world champion in billiards 14 times. The image of the "Minnesota Fats" is largely copied from this great billiard player.

It should be noted that Jackie Gleason ("Minnesota Fats") was a great pool player even before filming this movie. But Paul Newman ("Eddie "Fast" Felson") did not hold a cue in his hands before this film. But during the preparation for the film, he put a billiard table at home instead of a dining table and trained every free minute. An example of a professional attitude to business!

By the way, Paul Newman might not have played in this film. At the time when the shooting of this film was to take place, he was scheduled to begin filming "Two for the Seesaw" with Elizabeth Taylor. When Taylor was held up with the filming of "Cleopatra" (1963), filming of "Two for the Seesaw" was postponed and Paul was able to do this film. The film "Two for the Seesaw" was filmed a year later, but with the participation of Robert Mitchum and Shirley MacLaine.

In early 1962, Robert Rossen's film "The Hustler" received 4 nominations for the American Golden Globe Award. But among these nominations there were not the most important ones, only acting ones. But even those films did not win. The film then received 9 Academy Award nominations and won two of them. But only in technical categories. In the most important categories - Best Film and Best Director - "The Hustler" and Robert Rossen lost, respectively, to "West Side Story" and its director Robert Wise.

The British Film Academy gave the highest rating to "The Hustler", nominating this film in three categories and awarding the victory in two of them. In the category of the Best Film from any Source, the British film academies awarded the film their BAFTA Award (along with the Soviet film masterpiece "Баллада о солдате (The Ballad of a Soldier)" directed by Grigory Chukhrai). Moreover, among the competitors to the films of Rossen and Chukhrai were such outstanding films as Stanley Kramer's "Judgment at Nuremberg", Jacques Becker's "Le trou (The Hole)", Luchino Visconti's "Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers)", Satyajit Ray's "Apur Sansar (The World of Apu)". In addition to winning the Best Film category, Paul Newman also received the BAFTA Award for Best Actor.

In addition to the BAFTA award, Paul Newman received the Best Actor award at the Mar del Plata International Film Festival (Argentina). At this festival "The Hustler" was nominated for the main prize, but the jury of the film festival considered the Italian film "I giorni contati (His Days Are Numbered)" directed by Elio Petri (practically unknown to the Russian-speaking audience), more worthy of this award. Among the two dozen films-nominants for the main prize of this festival were, in particular, "Jules et Jim" by François Truffaut, "Girls" by Yuri Chulyukin.

If the festival success of Robert Rossen's film "The Hustler" cannot be called deafening, then it is difficult to call the generalized impression of American professional film critics anything other than delight. Even the snide and acrimonious film reviewer of The New York Times, Bosley Crowther, devoted more than a flattering review to the film: "Under Robert Rossen's strong direction, its ruthless and odorous account of one young hustler's eventual emancipation is positive and alive. It crackles with credible passions. It comes briskly and brusquely to sharp points. It doesn't dawdle with romantic nonsense, except in one brief unfortunate stretch..."The Hustler" is not a picture to take the children to see, but it is one a father might wisely recommend to a restless teen-age son."

Another authoritative film critic James Berardinelli rated Rossen's film with the maximum 4 stars in his system and wrote in his review: "There are some who wrongfully assume that The Hustler is about pool. It is a natural assumption: much of the action takes place in billiards rooms and pool halls, but this movie is no more about pool than Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull is about boxing. Lead character Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) is a pool shark, but change him into a poker player or a golfer, and The Hustler would play out pretty much the same. Robert Rossen's film is far less about Fast Eddie's confrontations with other players than it is about his war with his own demons and his struggle to define the intangible meaning of "character".

The guru of American film criticism, Roger Ebert, gave the film "The Hustler" maximum 4 stars and included it in his list of "Great Movies". In his review of this film, he wrote: "There are only a handful of movie characters so real that the audience refers to them as touchstones. Fast Eddie Felson is one of them. The pool shark played by Paul Newman in "The Hustler" (1961) is indelible--given weight because the film is not about his victory in the final pool game, but about his defeat by pool, by life, and by his lack of character. This is one of the few American movies in which the hero wins by surrendering, by accepting reality instead of his dreams...."The Hustler" is one of those films where scenes have such psychic weight that they grow in our memories."

In the Soviet Union, Robert Rossen's film "The Hustler" was not shown. Although, in the ideological atmosphere of the 60-70s, when the denunciation of the "capitalist world of profit and purity" was welcomed, it would have been very useful. Perhaps, to some extent, this is due to the personality of Robert Rossen himself, who was a member of the Communist Party in the late 30s, but during the McCarthyism years, being interrogated by the House Un-American Activities Committee, for the sake of preserving his career, betrayed his party comrades. By the way, some film critics sometimes suggest that the film "The Hustler" for Rossen was some attempt at repentance, drawing a parallel between himself and the hero of Paul Newman: one betrayed his fellow party members, the other actually betrayed his love.

The following figures indicate the ratings of the film "The Hustler" by ordinary moviegoers. With a budget of $ 2.125 million, the film grossed $ 7.6 million. 69% of IMDB and Kinopoisk users gave the film ratings from 8 to 10. Taking into account this indicator and the above, the rating of Robert Rossen's film "The Hustler" according to FilmGourmand was 8,585, which allowed it to take 287th Rank in the Golden Thousand.