2015 Dallas International Film Festival: The Hustler
Originally a screenwriter, Robert Rossen directed several stylistically impressive postwar movies including Body and Soul (1947) starring John Garfield as a boxer pressured to take a dive; and All the King's Men (1949), from Robert Penn’s Warren’s novel about political corruption, which won Best Picture.
Soon after, he ran afoul of HUAC witch-hunters, resisted for a time, and then took a dive. Rossen surely identified with Paul Newman’s pool-shooting ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson, a man squeezed between dangerous forces and his own ambitions. The Hustler looks and feels like the last ‘40s Film Noir, its oppressive visuals set off by brilliant performances.
Alongside Newman’s brooding lead is Piper Laurie as his tragic love, a coiled George C. Scott as a shifty gambler, and comedian Jackie Gleason in a subtle dramatic part.