Wednesday, March 2, 2011
COLOR OF MONEY, THE
(October 1986, U.S.)
If you're, by chance, one of those funny people that gets turned on by bizarre coincidences, then try this one on for size - not only am I posting two Tom Cruise films in a row, but in both films his character's name is Vincent. Spooky.
THE COLOR OF MONEY is an easily forgettable Martin Scorsese film. Mind you, I don't mean it's a bad film. Hell, if it were bad, I wouldn't even have it in my collection. What I mean is that when you stack it up against some of Scorsese's other groundbreaking films like TAXI DRIVER (1976), RAGING BULL (1980) and GOODFELLAS (1990), it's understandably easy to dismiss THE COLOR OF MONEY from his filmography existence. But by its own rights, the sequel to THE HUSTLER (one of my favorite classic black and white films!) stands out on its own as a great film, even if you haven't seen THE HUSTLER before it (it helps, though).
Tom Cruise was at the pivotal breakout point of his career in 1986, having just scored a major smash hit with TOP GUN. How could he fail now, being paired up with the great Paul Newman in a sequel to a classic film from two decades prior? It's a pleasure to watch Newman reprise his role as "Fast Eddie" Felson, the great pool huslter and stakehorse who believe that "money won is better than money earned". He's older now and not as fast as he used to be, but having Vincent Lauria (Cruise) under his expert tutelage is the next best thing. Eddie teaches Vincent and his girlfriend Carmen (played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) how to hustle significant amounts of money at the pool halls they travel to. But he also becomes increasingly frustrated with both of them and with himself, until an explosive falling-out results in a parting of the ways and ultimately a final pool game that may or may not square things away between them. In the end, it's all about who has the best game and who walks away with more of the other person's money.
Despite the minor controversy at the time of Jackie Gleason NOT making a cameo appearance as his HUSTLER character, Minnesota Fats, I believe THE COLOR OF MONEY was a better film for it. To have included his character would have likely been nothing more than a mere afterthought of the past and his place in it. This is a story about "Fast Eddie" and what became of him and how his life continues to change along the way. It also finally won Paul Newman the Oscar for best actor that he was long, long overdue.
Favorite line or dialogue:
"Fast Eddie" Felson: "Hey...I'm BACK!"