The 1961 movie “The Hustler” celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011, and since its release the film has remained the quintessential representation of the game of billiards.
Here are 18 tit-bits you may not know about the movie:
- Paul Newman had never played pool prior to starring in the movie.
- Newman challenged co-star Jackie Gleason to a $50 game of pool. Gleason cleaned the table and Newman paid in pennies.
- It took 25 years for the sequel, “The Color of Money,” because it took that long for the novel’s author to write it.
- Gleason made his own pool shots in the movie.
- The popularity of billiards increased dramatically after the movie’s release.
- The movie received little marketing from 20th Century Fox but audience approval made it a hit.
- The movie was filmed almost exclusively in New York City.
- Newman won an Oscar for the role of Fast Eddie, but not for his portrayal in “The Hustler.” He won the award for his reprise of Eddie’s character in “The Color of Money.”
- Newman’s Oscar award (see #8) is the only Oscar he ever won in his life.
- In a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon sort of twist, former boxing champ Jake LaMotta had a small part in the movie, was later portrayed by Robert De Niro in “Raging Bull,” which was directed by Martin Scorsese (who also directed “The Color of Money”).
- Newman’s pool coach was Willie Mosconi, the movie’s technical advisor and renowned pool champion.
- For difficult shots, Mosconi (see #11) is the one doing the shooting.
- All four stars of the movie were nominated for Oscars.
- George C. Scott was the first actor to refuse to accept an Oscar, which he won for Best Actor in the movie, “Patton.”
- The movie was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won two of them.
- The alternate title was “Stroke of Luck” because some felt “The Hustler” brought to mind prostitutes rather than pool sharks.
- Newman practiced pool for the movie at an all-girls high school in New York City.
- Bobby Darin has already been cast as Fast Eddie and was replaced by Newman without even being told.
“The Hustler” is a classic and a definite must-see for billiards fans of any age!
August 13, 2013 Tuesday at 12:59 pm