The Hustler

  • Review Date: May 11, 2003
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1961
  • Running Time: 134 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Like a traditional morality play; teens and up.
  • Review Date: May 11, 2003
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1961
  • Running Time: 134 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable
Violence

Eddie beat up (in shadows); Sarah commits suicide (off-screen).

Sex

Eddie and Sarah have (off-screen) sex; implication that Bert and Sarah have sex, a factor in her suicide.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A lot of drinking, much of it to excess; smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that despite the seedy settings (so evocative that they're almost a character in the story), this is almost a traditional morality play about humility and redemption.

User reviews

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

"Fast" Eddie Felsen (Paul Newman) is a pool hustler. He and his partner, Charlie, go into pool halls and set the local players up. Eddie's dream is to beat the legendary Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason), so he challenges him to a contest. After more than 24 hours, Eddie realizes he can't win. He leaves Charlie the money and the car, and goes off on his own. Eddie meets Sarah (Piper Laurie), an alcoholic, and moves in with her. Eddie struggles with his identity in more than a few ways, but grows closer to Sarah. He teams up with gambler Bert Gordon (George C. Scott), who sets up a game with a rich man. In a mirror image of the game with Fats, Eddie loses at first, and then, defying Sarah's appeal to quit, persists, and wins $12,000. In the tug-of-war for Eddie, Bert has won, and Sarah commits suicide. In a new frame of mind, Eddie decides to challenge Fats to a game again.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Despite the seedy settings (so evocative that they are almost a character in the story), this is almost a traditional morality play about humility and redemption. In the beginning Eddie is, as Fats notes, as fast as his nickname, slick, cocky, superficial. He wants to win for the kick of it. But inside him, there is someone who wants to win for the beauty of the game, and the honor of doing something surpassingly well. But before he can be a real winner, he must get rid of the part of himself that wants to lose, that is afraid to take a real risk. For that, he has to experience real loss, especially the loss of Sarah.

As Nietzsche said, "That which does not defeat me makes me stronger." Eddie is strengthened so by these experiences and by what he has learned, that he can no longer be contained by what had once been his entire world. Bert's threat that he will no longer be able to play big-time pool is meaningless to him. Even if Bert had offered him a 50-50 deal, he would not have taken it. That world is too small and self- contained for him now.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the characters in this movie have different ideas about what makes someone a winner or a loser. What are those ideas? How do they fit with others you have heard about, or with your own? What made Eddie different between his two games with Fats? Why didn't Sarah want Eddie to keep playing Findlay? How do Sarah and Bert represent two different parts of Eddie that fight with each other?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 25, 1961
DVD release date:June 4, 2002
Cast:George C. Scott, Jackie Gleason, Paul Newman
Director:Robert Rossen
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Genre:Drama
Run time:134 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of The Hustler was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

Write a user reviewThere aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential School Tools