The Color of Money is a new favorite film of mine. It’s a sequel to the classic 1961 film, The Hustler. The legendary Paul Newman stars as Fast Eddie Felson and it’s directed by the one and only Martin Scorsese. What a combination. I want to discuss how this film went from “it’s okay” to a spot on my list of favorite films of all time. Possible spoilers.
I first watched this on December 13, 2020 and here is my original review:
“This is a Scorsese film no doubt. It has his signature all over it. I love his style so this was an easy watch. Though I'm not going to lie, I wasn't nearly as invested as I should've been. Newman won an Oscar for his performance and he deserved it. Cruise is unrecognizable. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio also shines. I'm a bit disappointed though. I wish I liked this more but unfortunately I found it a bit underwhelming.”
I love when this happens. I watch a film, I think it’s fine, a few years go by and I think about rewatching it, I rewatch it, and I end up loving it. I wonder why I felt that way in the beginning though. I went into the second viewing knowing I found this film underwhelming and it ended up growing on me. Maybe I expected more since it’s a sequel to a great film and it’s a Scorsese film? I’m not sure, but after the second viewing, I believe this film did everything right.
This film is a sequel to The Hustler (1961) and I think it's one of the best sequels of all time. First off, The Hustler is an amazing film. Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, and George C Scott all give amazing performances. I'd highly recommend it. What I love about The Color of Money is you can watch it without seeing the original. Now I'd suggest watching both films but you can still see one without the other.
Martin Scorsese is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Goodfellas is one of my favorite films and is one of the greatest films ever made. From what I’ve seen from Scorsese, he truly is one of the best to ever do it. Like I said in my original review, this is a Scorsese film no doubt. His signature style is all over this picture so the quality is on point. Even though this wasn’t a passion project for Scorsese, and more of a studio hire, requested personally by Newman himself, Scorsese still gave it his all and I think he succeeded in spades. This is one of my favorite films of his and it’s some of his best work. His direction really elevated this film into a whole other level.
The music, editing, cinematography, and everything else is so damn perfect. The editing, by Thelma Schoonmaker, is fantastic. This is one of the best edited films I’ve ever seen. The soundtrack is now one of my favorites. All the songs and the original score fit this film like a glove. The cinematography and production design really showcase the cold and sleazy pool bars around the Chicago area. It has that smoke filled, old school bar look down to a T. It’s great stuff.
Paul Newman is one of my favorite actors. He had that cool charisma that only a few actors possessed. I love his work, especially The Sting, Cool Hand Luke, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and The Hustler. This film, though, has his best performance. His old age at the time added so much to his performance. I can see the history behind his eyes. Fast Eddie is a fantastic character and Newman plays him perfectly. One of my favorite performances from one of my favorite characters. He deserved to win the Best Actor Oscar for his performance. I also love Eddie’s sunglasses.
Tom Cruise is very good in this film. I wish he did more dramatic work these days because he is very talented. A Few Good Men and Magnolia are examples of his great dramatic acting abilities. He plays The Kid Vincent with that cocky attitude with ease. He has so many great moments in this film. I love the relationship between Eddie, Vincent, and Carmen.
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio though is the unsung hero of this film. Her performance as Carmen, Vincent’s con artist girlfriend, really impressed me on first viewing. I thought she really pulled it off as the unknown femme fatale. She’s not really a villain but her agenda is like Eddie’s, to make money, no matter who gets screwed over. I love the scene where she tries to seduce Eddie but he doesn’t fall for it and insists they are partners and are in this together. It’s a brilliant performance and I’m happy she got an Oscar nomination.
Forest Whitaker and John Turturro make appearances in this film and they are damn good in this for the short time they’re in it.
I love pool. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I’m not nearly as good as Fast Eddie or The Kid Vincent but I know how to play. Like Fast Eddie, this film reignited my love of the game. It makes me want to buy my own pool table and play. Scorsese really took advantage of the game and created some awesome shots.
The story is what I found underwhelming before, but now I think it’s just right. It was written by Richard Price and it takes liberty from the original Novel by Walter Tevis. Eddie is long retired from pool and his old ways. He discovers Vincent and Carmen and decides to take them under his wing. He exploits Vincent’s talent for money like he was once exploited in his younger days. Though Vincent learns quickly and pulls a fast one on his master in the end when they face off. It’s brilliant. I love their showdown and how Eddie thinks he beat Vincent, only to find out Vincent purposely lost so he can win money. Eddie’s disappointment is too much and he forfeits the competition and gives his earnings back to Vincent. Eddie wants to know if he can truly beat Vincent so they have one final game and the film cuts to black as Eddie says “Hey, I’m back!”. It’s an amazing ending to an amazing film.
Overall, this is a great example of a film I found just okay at first, rewatched it, and it being called a new favorite film of mine. It's one of my favorites from the master himself, Martin Scorsese, and one of my favorite films of all time. I'd highly recommend it.