The Color of Money review by Tom Blain

Dated but still Good

The Color of Money is a film about the redemption of Fast Eddie Felson. Not necessarily a religious redemption but redemption of his true calling. You see, Eddie got his nickname (Fast) for being a pool hustler. In fact 25 years earlier, Paul Newman played the role of Eddie then (as a young hotshot) and he has reprised the role here (older and wiser). The first time around he received an Oscar nomination; the second time he received an Oscar (although it was probably more deserved the first time).

To catch you up from the original, Eddie was one of the best straight pool (see note below); when he played sober. At the end of the film, he got himself in trouble and was retired from the game at an early age. Since then he has sobered up (he still drinks but seems to do so with style as opposed to slop), and used his skill of reading people for business. Then along came Vincent (Tom Cruise) a young pool shark and his girlfriend Carmen (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). (By the way Mary, do me a favor and shorten the name!) Vince is a bit of a flake but to his credit, Eddie sees a bit of himself in the kid. He takes him under his wing but struggles to teach the not so apt pupil the art of trimming the mark.

Tom Cruise plays the part well. You can see him stare straight through Paul Newmans lessons all the way to the pool table. And when he gets to the table all he knows is showing off and letting his emotions take control. As time goes on, Vince becomes more aware of his potential (or rather is controlled better by his girlfriend). The more time Eddie spends with the kid, the hungrier he grows for the game himself. He realizes what he has been lacking in his life was the game that he once dominated. He starts playing again, but after getting hustled himself, Eddie leaves them, knowing the teacher has been surpassed by the pupil.

What follows (after the ultra cheesy Paul Newman jumping in a swimming pool to get in shape or possibly wash himself of getting hustled) is his emergence back into world of competitive pool, proclaiming he is back.

Style-wise this movie is somewhat dated. The music is without a doubt 80s (including a Eric Clapton song Shes Ready when EC was in his what this song could use is a synthesizer days). Who could forget Tom Cruise running the table while doing the Wearwolves of London. Not an image that leaves my head with any immediacy. The director (have I mentioned its Martin Scorsese yet?) seems to be quite inventive with many different types of camera shots on the pool table but its almost too much. It seems he pulls all of his tricks and it turns into a dog and pony show.

The Hustler was a little more down to earth. It was more of a drama about alcoholism and self-destruction; where as The Color of Money is more of a fun pool-action and redemption of character film (more akin to Rounders than The Hustler). It still has the layers of drama; they just strike a different chord. Regardless this is still a fine little piece of film making and establishes Tom Cruise as a young talent as well as reestablishing Paul Newman as one of the all time greats.

Ah yes, I got jumped on for the 8-ball / straight pool mix up as stated by the first two respective (loose term) commenters below. I changed it to please the masses




6 out of 10 Jackasses
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