I have no interest in playing/watching pool or going to bars, but The Hustler is a film that I could not navigate my eyes away from. Paul Newman plays a cool cat by the named of "Crazy Eddie" Felson, a man that may not be crazy but he surely has an uncontrollable aura of confidence. It seems Crazy Eddie is more interested in beating the best pool players than taking all their money, a character flaw that results in monetary loss for the young man. It is not until Crazy Eddie meets an older con-man psychopath named Bert that he finally learns to hustle like a true capitalist. Unfortunately for Eddie, Bert also likes to hustle his students as long as it results in monetary gain.
Crazy Eddie may be a hustler but he certainly is not the best at hustling the opposite sex. In fact, Eddie's love interest Sarah hustles him when she pays for his food and eventually gives him a place to stay. Sarah is an alcoholic writer who is no doubt Eddie's intellectual superior. Due to her quick wits and flawless intellect, Sarah soon picks up on the fact that Bert is hustling Eddie. The real battle in The Hustler becomes between Bert and Sarah, a duel of psychological warfare that makes the film the intense vintage classic that it is. Out of all the people that Crazy Eddie encounters, it seems he respects his fellow hustler pool players the most. Eddie especially has a soft spot for Minnesota Fats, a fat hustler who despite his fatness has an aristocratic manner.
In 1986, Paul Newman reprises his role as Crazy Eddie in the Martin Scorsese film The Color of Money. In this film, Crazy Eddie no longer has the youthful exuberance that he had in The Hustler. In fact, it seems that Crazy Eddie has taken over many of the character traits of the highly despicable Bert. Now almost elderly, Crazy Eddie finds himself a young hotshot pool player to make money off of. I found this to be a reasonable change as Crazy Eddie's world in The Hustler is destroyed and he has finally learned the way of the beast, but I guess that is what one should expect in a parasitical criminal underworld, for the nicest guys always come in last.