Legendary actor Paul Newman (MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE) and Academy Award(R)-nominee Tom Cruise (Best Actor, 1996, JERRY MAGUIRE) ignite the screen in this powerful drama. Brilliantly directed by Martin Scorsese (GANGS OF NEW YO... more »RK), Newman re-creates one of his most memorable roles from THE HUSTLER. As Fast Eddie Felson, he still believes that "money won is twice as sweet as money earned." To prove his point, he forms a profitable yet volatile partnership with Vince (Cruise), a young pool hustler with a sexy, tough-talking girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, THE PERFECT STORM). But when Vince's flashy arrogance leads to more than a few lost matches, all bets are off between Eddie and him. THE COLOR OF MONEY will electrify you with its suspenseful story, dazzling cinematography, and dynamic performances.« less
Themis-Athena | from somewhere between California and Germany | 05/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In this movie's opening voiceover, director Martin Scorsese explains that nine-ball pool, as you've probably guessed, comes down to one basic rule: You don't win without pocketing the 9. Partially this depends on the balls' spread in the break; i.e. on luck. But, Scorsese concludes with the credo of all high-stakes hustlers from poker to pool and beyond: "For some players, luck itself is an art."
Once, Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) mastered this art; a whiz kid out to beat champion Minnesota Fats, he had to learn some painful lessons instead. But that was 25 years ago - in 1961's "Hustler," to which "The Color of Money" is a belated sequel - and now it's "dead and buried." Now Eddie is a liquor salesman; even if he's still got the hustle down cold: just listen to him philosophizing about a bourbon's color, age and acidic content and I'll lay you any bet you'll be buying a case from him in no time at all.
Yet, Eddie keeps hanging around pool halls, and one day the inevitable happens: He runs into Vincent (Tom Cruise), almost a reincarnation of his younger self; a guy with a sledgehammer break and an "incredible flake," as Eddie opines less than charitably, cocky beyond belief but apparently unaware of his potential, preferring to perfect his video game reflexes on the theory that this might get him into West Point, instead of focusing on his greatest and, more importantly, only financially viable area of expertise: pool. Now, if Eddie has learned one thing it's that whatever your field, it *all* comes down to money; and the guy who's got the most of it is the best. But to get there, you have to be more than just excellent at what you do: You have to be a student of psychology, learn to take advantage of others, understand when to lose is actually to win; and if you're a "natural character" like Vincent, you have to learn to "flake on and flake off" - to be yourself, but on purpose. In short, it takes the right proportion of both brains and b*lls to win big at pool. All this, Eddie is determined to teach Vince, even if it takes some support from his girlfriend Carmen (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) to get him going. But eventually they do set out on the road, for a six-week high-intensity training in hustles and cons, with their eyes set on a high-stakes nine-ball tournament in Atlantic City at the end. And Eddie, once exploited by a ruthless promoter himself, dispenses tough love; all to drive home one crucial lesson: "Nice guys finish last;" and mercy towards *any* opponent is downright unprofessional.
Vincent, Carmen and Eddie make an unequal trio; they collide as often and as hard as cue balls, and it's a sheer joy to see these outstanding actors go up against each other: Cruise as the cocky kid who refuses to drop his ego trips, Mastrantonio as his tough-talking girlfriend, and Newman as the seasoned pro who suddenly gets goose-bumpy again when entering a pool room (even if to his shame he finds the place now used for furniture storage), rediscovers that money won is "twice as sweet" as money earned, and at last gets hungry enough to get back into the game himself, albeit at the price of first being hustled by a kid with a dumb-fat-underdog routine (brilliantly played by Forest Whitaker). For Tom Cruise, who left a lasting impression with 1983's "Risky Business" but otherwise only had a few middling movies under his belt at this point, this was a great opportunity to show his chops opposite one of the business's all-time greats, and he was more than up to the task. (Although he shot to superstardom the same year with "Top Gun," even here virtually all of his trademark mannerisms and voice inflections - particularly when playing cocky - are already fully present.) Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio earned Oscar- and Golden-Globe-nominations for her portrayal of Carmen, who clues into Eddie's "pool is business" lessons quicker than Vince and, after a first-hand education on the use of "that thing," finds ways through Vincent's cockiness where Eddie doesn't have access. Paul Newman finally netted his long-overdue Academy Award; thus belatedly making up for the undeserved pass for "The Hustler," after the Academy had summarily sugarcoated a total of seven unfulfilled nominations - and numerous award-worthy appearances that didn't even earn that kind of nod - with a lifetime achievement award the year before. (Newman accepted, but wasn't present at either ceremony.)
What makes this movie stand out, however, is not merely its tremendous cast, from the central trio to Helen Shaver (Eddie's girlfriend Janelle), John Turturro (Julian, the "stake horse" Vincent replaces in Eddie's favor), Scorsese's dog Zoe (credited as "dog walkby"!), Iggy Pop, and several top pool players, e.g. Steve "The Miz" Mizerak, Jimmy "Pretty Boy Floyd" Mataya (together with wife Eva also technical advisor) and Keith McCready (Vincent's nemesis Grady Seasons). Moreover, nobody could have captured the pool halls' dingy allure, a trick shot's swift precision and the balls' movement over the table quite like Michael Ballhaus - there's a reason they call him "Hollywood's Eye." And then there's the score, by the "Band's" ringleader Robbie Robertson; featuring contributions from a virtual who-is-who of rock and blues's all time greatest, including Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Don Henley, Warren Zevon, Phil Collins, Robert Palmer and Percy Sledge; pointedly framing all key scenes and doubling the edge of the cue balls' and characters' collisions alike.
The movie's ending may appear anticlimactic, as the story seems to build up to a showdown which we never get to see. But for Eddie, it's ultimately about going up against Vince's best game - and the only thing that matters is that he's back, and there to stay for the duration this time. And no question: back he certainly is.
Also recommended: The Hustler (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) The Sting (Universal Legacy Series) The Firm Maverick Atlantic City Rounders (Collector's Edition) Flim Flam Man"
A Great Movie that's about more than Pool. 80s Classic!
Mark | East Coast | 08/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie appears to be about pool on the surface. But it's less about pool than it is about what motivates us as people.
Fast Eddie Felson of the classic, "The Hustler," returns to reverse roles in this 80s classic. Instead of being the young champ, he wants to train the young champ in Tom Cruise. But eventually, he realizes the hard way he doesn't have the stomach to play stake horse and in his heart he really wants the thrill of competition.
A lot of people will compare this movie to "The Hustler," since it is the sequel. There is no comparison. This movie really can't even be compared in pool terms. The pool shots that they hit in this movie are, for the most part, average to above-average. This is not the mind blowing pool play from "The Hustler" to be sure.
But this movie does have plenty going for it. For non-pool players, this movie has more character development. This movie also features some of the greatest cinematography of any film. And Newman, Cruise, and the supporting cast all put in stellar performances.
In short, this is a great movie that's worth watching just for enjoyment or on a deeper level for those who appreciate fine cinema. It's not half the movie that "The Hustler" is, but it has enough merits to stand on its own."
A great sequel
Bomojaz | South Central PA, USA | 05/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A sequel of sorts of Newman's 1960 THE HUSTLER, and a great one. Newman, long out of the pool game now, but still unable to forget it, finds Tom Cruise shooting the daylights out of the game one night and talks the brash young kid into going on the road and becoming a hustler, with Newman as his mentor. Then halfway through the picture Newman gets the bug to play again. He and Cruise meet up in Atlantic City in a match and Newman wins, only he learns that Cruise lost on purpose to collect a bigger debt. Although it's just an example of his pupil learning his lessons too well, Newman is crestfallen; but he refuses to share in the money - thus he's purified under fire and comes away clean. It's a bit of a shock to see the movie shift from Cruise to Newman halfway through, but the ending redeems it. Both Cruise and Newman are simply mesmorizing to watch. Everything in the movie seems to work perfectly: the gritty pool-hall settings, the minor characters (especially Forest Whitaker as a hustler) - everything. Definitely worth a watch."
Paul Newman teachers Tom Crusie about pool and acting
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/23/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Color of Money" is the movie for which Paul Newman finally won his Oscar for Best Actor in 1987, having been given an Honorary Award the year before when the Academy noticed it had passed him over for a quarter of a century. During that time Newman was nominated for "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "The Hustler," "Hud," "Cool Hand Luke," "Rachel, Rachel," "Absence of Malice," and "The Verdict." If you go back and look at the other nominees each year you certainly cannot say that he was ever robbed. His best performance, in "Cool Hand Luke," lost out to Rod Steiger for "In the Heat of the Night," and was also up against Warren Beatty for "Bonnie and Clyde," Dustin Hoffman for "The Graduate," and Spencer Tracy posthumously for "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner." Nor can you say that the Oscar for "The Color of Money" was a gift, given Newman was up against Dexter Gordon for "'Round Midnight," William Hurt in "Children of a Lesser God," Bob Hoskins for "Mona Lisa," and James Woods in "Salvador."
I take this extended trip down memory lane because when I watched "The Color of Money" again I kept thinking more about the actors than the story and performances. Not only was I aware that this was Newman's Oscar winning-performance but I was also thinking about how this was another one of the films where Tom Cruise played second fiddle to an established actor (i.e., Hoffman in "Rain Man") and enhanced his own reputation as an actor as well as a movie star. Of course, if you want to learn about being both an actor and a mega-movie star, then who better to be your tutor and role model than Paul Newman?
Newman is once again playing Fast Eddie Felson, whom we first met a long time ago in "The Hustler." But automatically labeling "The Color of Money" a sequel to the 1961 film is really a mistake. It might be the same actor playing the same character but he is a different person. If "The Hustler" is before, then "The Color of Money" is after, and we missed the entire during part of Eddie's life. The movie makes much more sense as another one of those where the old pro teaches the young kid how to play the game. But since this is modern times the kid gets to teach one or two things back at the old guy as well.
Eddie has put the high-stakes pool games behind him and earns his living as a successful liquor salesman. Then one night he sees Vince (Cruise) playing pool and Eddie is intrigued. Not only is Vincent good, but he is also a complete "flake," and Eddie sees the opportunity to use this gimmick to make a killing at the pool tables where the big boys play for big money. Controlling the kid is the problem, so Eddie gets Vincent's girlfriend, Carmen (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), to help steer him in the right direction. Of course this one is going to come down to Eddie and Vincent playing against each other, which is and yet is not what happens. Unfortunately, this takes away from our pleasure in watching Eddie manipulate Vincent, because now we have to rethink everything that happened in the film.
"The Color of Money" is also the Martin Scorsese that least seems to me to be a Martin Scorses movie. But the director certainly knows how to feature his start. The best moment in the movie comes when Fast Eddie is going to break a rack of balls for the first time in a long, long time. He bends over the table and sees his own reflection in the eight ball and then Scorsese smashes into a powerful close-up.
Yeah, this is Paul Newman's movie. When you compare "The Color of Money" to "The Hustler" you are going to be more aware of Newman's growth as an actor than you are of the changes in the character. This is a classic acting lesson on how less is more, and I think you can tell from his own growth as an actor that Tom Cruise was either taking notes or has been watching this particular film more often than he has his blockbusters.
A Complex Classic
Lawrance M. Bernabo | 02/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After having seen this movie many times, I came to realize it has more than one "level." It is a "good" movie as pure light entertainment. However, when you really study the movie during several viewings, you realize Scorsese is telling us, through lots of metaphors, what motivates people as they travel through life. At this level, this movie is an outstanding classic.Some other reviewers don't like the ending; I think it is perfect. However, there is a critical scene that, if missed or misunderstood, gives the film a different meaning. That scene is near the end where Vince (Cruise) says Felson (Newman) has used Vince and his girlfriend. Felson admits this is true. This is a critical explanation of the plot. Fast Eddie Felson was forced to stay out of pool rooms for many years (see the ending of The Hustler). After more than 25 years, he is searching for a pool player that might be good enough to beat Fast Eddie Felson (Minnesota Fats is no longer around). Fast Eddie Felson develops and trains Vince so Fast Eddie will have someone play against. After 25+ years, Fast Eddie is still trying to be the best, but he needs a worthy opponent. At the same time, Fast Eddie has to train and regain his own skills. At the end of the movie, even if he loses to Vince, he will keep trying to get better until he can eventually win. But, at least he has a worthy opponent. Until he discovered Vince, he knew there was probably no one he could not eventually beat.One other suggestion: Some reviewers complained about the sound. Try listening to the movie using a very good pair of headphones. You will be amazed at what you hear. Also, for those who might not know, the musical score was by Robbie Robertson, the leader of The Band.In summary, this movie is on my list of the top 5 ever made."