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The Color of Money
1986 - R - 119 Mins.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Producer: Irving Axelrod, Barbara De Fina
Written By: Richard Price
Starring: Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Helen Shaver, John Turturro, Bill Cobbs, Forest Whitaker
Review by: Carl Langley

Someday you will make millions
The Color of Money is not really a sequel to one of the greatest films of all time, The Hustler, though its lead character is the same – Fast Eddie Felson, vigorously played by the legendary Paul Newman. Newman, along with Al Pacino, is the only man to be nominated by the Academy twice for portraying the same character. Newman won his only acting Oscar for his performance in Martin Scorsese’s The Color of Money, but of the nine roles he has been noticed for, this ranks at the bottom. It almost seems political; he does not win for his best performances, so he is compensated with a pity award. This is not to say he did not deserve it; his enactment grasps the film and controls it. This is Paul Newman’s movie. It is funny to say that because it is directed by Martin Scorsese, one of the best directors of all time and features Tom Cruise, one of the most prominent stars of today in one of his earliest roles. Every film that Scorsese has directed leaves a trademark impression and every Cruise vehicle (no pun intended) are made specifically for him. Whereas in this case, the response comes from Newman, who completely controls the film with his suave and hustler-type manner, just as he did 43 years ago.

The film itself is clichéd and this drags the performances of Newman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio down. Mastrantonio was also nominated for an Oscar, but lost out to Dianne Wiest deservedly for Hannah and Her Sisters. In the beginning, Fast Eddie Felson discovers a young hotshot pool player, Vincent (Tom Cruise), who greatly resembles himself in his early years when he went one on one with Minnesota Fats. Vincent has just got done destroying one of Nelson’s respectable friends (John Turturro) and he envisions taking Vincent all the way to the Pro Championships. Felson, out of the game, decides he can teach the kid how to swindle this way and that to earn big bucks. He uses Vincent’s girlfriend (Mastrantonio) to direct him in the right direction and at times, to whittle away his over-lavished confidence.

In The Hustler, Newman’s character was expertly written and completed, so at the time this film begins, there is nothing to build on. He finds a young Eddie Felson in Vincent, but Tom Cruise possesses too much of a wild nature to portray the “cool” Paul Newman did. The exemplary comes in when Vincent yearns to overthrow Felson’s reputation, which leads to an unsatisfying ending. The second half is protracted and builds up to an enticing climax that actually never happens.

The Color of Money is slightly overrated and does not even come close to living up to the original its lead character derives from. Scorsese has done better; Newman as well, but he is still good.
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

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