The Hustler (1961)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 22-Aug-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-How To Make The Shot (5)
Seamless Branching-Trick Shot Analysis
Audio Commentary-Paul Newman (Actor) et al
Gallery-Behind The Scenes
Theatrical Trailer-2
Featurette-The Hustler - the inside story
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1961
Running Time 129:14
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (62:37) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Robert Rossen
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Paul Newman
George C. Scott
Piper Laurie
Jackie Gleason
Myron McCormick
Murray Hamilton
Case ?
RPI ? Music Kenyon Hopkins


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.30:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Dutch
English
French
Italian
French Titling
Italian Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Hustler is a classic movie, and one which got (deservedly) nominated for 10 Oscars. If you've heard of this movie, but not seen it, you may think that it's about pool - I know, because that's what I thought. That's a superficial point of view. It's about alcoholism, it's about strength of character, it's about winning, losing, and gambling. I guess, more than anything else, it's about people.

    There is one moment in the film (if you remember it well, I'm talking about the picnic) that impressed me deeply, because it expresses something I feel - Fast Eddie is talking about how something, anything, can be great. It's perhaps the most open he ever gets, and it's poignant.

    If you hear the superficial after this movie, you'll hear about Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason - marvellous performance, and so unlike his normal persona). He's an unimportant character in the film - he's really just a symbol. The central character is Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) - this film is his story. The two other important characters are Sarah Packard (Piper Laurie) and Bert Gordon (George C. Scott). Sarah is the woman Eddie meets by chance, and from whom he learns quite a bit (without realising it). Bert Gordon is the gambler who teaches Eddie how to win when it really matters. Watching Eddie learn and change is quite an education.

    Fast Eddie isn't a hero. He's a hustler, making his living by suckering people into bets, into pool games that he wins. The opening sequence shows Fast Eddie and his partner Charlie (Myron McCormick) in action - quite an impressive performance - they make it look like luck, so the target doesn't get resentful. (Later in the movie we get to see what happens when Fast Eddie wins and rubs it in...) The director (and Paul Newman) portray Eddie with many disagreeable character traits - he's greedy, boastful, and a drunk - but somehow you have to like him, and empathise with him.

    I mentioned to an acquaintance that I was really impressed by this film. He was somewhat interested. I mentioned that it was black-and-white, and he lost interest. Amazing. Some of the best films ever made are black-and-white. I guess he'll never see them. His loss. They made a sequel to this film - The Colour of Money, starring Tom Cruise. It's nothing like as good, but it's in colour - your call...

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This film is presented in a measured aspect ratio of 2.30:1, 16x9 enhanced. That's very close to the theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

    The image is lovely and sharp. It displays impressive shadow detail. There's no trace of low-level noise.

    Colour - there is none! This is a black-and-white film, and it displays an impressive range of tones, from deep rich black through to clear white. There's no over-hot whites.

    Here's the amazing thing. This film is 41 years old, and there are virtually no film artefacts. I did spot one (a faint white line on a face at 44:03). They say that this is digitally restored, and they ain't kidding. There's a hint of aliasing (see 13:25), but it's faint, and that's impressive, considering the hard edges on display (Venetian blinds, cues, and so forth). There's no moire. There are only traces of MPEG shimmer in the backgrounds. There is some edge enhancement, but it never reaches objectionable levels. This is a very clean transfer.

    There are subtitles in English, French, Italian and Dutch. I watched the English captions. They are accurate, well-timed, and easy to read.

    The disc is single-sided and RSDL-formatted, with the layer change at 62:37. It's hidden inside a fade-to-black, and is near invisible - an excellent layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The English soundtrack is Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround encoded - it sounds mono. There's a commentary in English, too. I listened to both.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand, with no visible audio sync problems.

    Kenyon Hopkins' score is very good - mostly smoky jazz sounds in the background.

    This is the kind of soundtrack that makes no use whatsoever of the surrounds and sub. They aren't required - this movie is driven by dialogue, and the occasional sound of a pool ball dropping in a pocket.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are some interesting extras on this disc.

Menu

    The menu is easy to use, with animation and music (plus the sound of pool balls).

Commentary

    This is not a screen-specific commentary - it is more a sort of interview, with lots of people answering questions. The people in this commentary are Paul Newman (sounding very old), Carol Rossen (the director's daughter), Dede Allen (the film's editor), Stefan Gierasch (the actor who played Preacher), Ulu Grosbard (assistant director), Richard Schickel (film critic for Time Magazine), and Jeff Young (film historian).

    There's considerable discussion about the McCarthy era (understandable, given that this film was made while the echoes still rippled through Hollywood) and about people's attitude toward director Robert Rossen, given that he testified and "named names" at the hearings.

Featurette - How to make the shot

    This is Mike Massey, a pool trick shot expert, demonstrating a number of the shots we see in the movie:

Trick Shot analysis

    This is an interesting feature. You can choose to watch five short commentaries by Mike Massey on shots in the film either as part of the film, or separately. Either way, he appears in a small window on the screen, and comments on the shot. If you watch them individually they are:

Photo Gallery - Behind the Scenes

    This is smaller than most galleries - just 9 photos..

Theatrical Trailer (3:14)

    A bit over-bright, with a blaring trumpet..

Spanish Trailer (3:14)

    Exactly the same video, but with titles and sound in Spanish.

Featurette - The Hustler - The Inside Story (23:33)

    This is quite a decent making of. It's quite interesting to compare the movie footage shown in this featurette with the feature - this footage shows film artefacts and moire.

    One of the interesting bits of trivia revealed is that the guy holding the stakes in the game between Fast Eddie and Fats is Willie Moscone - world champion pool player.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 and Region 4 discs sound like they have the same features. I don't know how good the transfer on the R1 is, but I doubt it can be better than this one. I can definitely recommend the R4.

Summary

    The Hustler is one of the all-time classic movies, on an excellent DVD.

    The video quality is superb.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, August 05, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Adrian T
The DVD Bits - Craig D

Comments (Add) NONE