The Hustler 1961 ****

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It’s hard to credit that the Walter Tevis whose novel was adapted by Robert Rossen for this classic slice of pool-hall drama is the same author responsible for The Man Who Fell To Earth. Then again, the story of a Californian shark making it in New York city certainly plays like a story of an alien fighting for survival in a strange environment, Paul Newman is at his charismatic best as Fast Eddie Felson, who takes on reigning champion Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) in this downbeat but absorbing character study. Piper Laurie makes an unusual love-interest as Sarah, and Rossen makes great use of his own experiences as a poll-hall hustler; his movie positively reeks of authenticity.

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