‘The Color of Money’ (1986) Short Film Review (A Scorsese picture without any of his trademark violence, and yet, still manages to be one of his best…)

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Written by Walter Tevis (novel) and Richard Price (screenplay)

Produced by Irving Axelrad, Barbara De Fina and Dodie Foster

Film Editing by Thelma Schoonmaker

Starring Paul Newman (Fast Eddie Felson), Tom Cruise (Vincent Lauria), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Carmen), Helen Shaver (Janelle), John Turturro (Julian), Bill Cobbs (Orvis), Forest Whitaker (Amos)

Released 17th October 1986

Plot Summary: 25 years on from ‘The Hustler’, Fast Eddie Felson, now an old, retired former ‘hustling’ pool player; sets his sights on a young, up and coming pool player and although cocky and overly confident, he has a rare extraordinary gift in this competitive sport that is rarely unmatched. Felson decides to take this young but quick learner under his wing, teaching him all the tricks of the trade, and while doing so, embarks on a journey of redemption and re-discovery as they travel together.

Review: One of the few Scorsese films I haven’t seen until now, and one that I guess I pretty much overlooked in every possible conceivable way, its obviously pretty clear that this isn’t a Scorsese picture as popular or held in such high esteem as many of his other films; most notably his gangster fare. I’m not so sure if this actually out-beats the sheer excellence of its classic predecessor, ‘The Hustler’ 25 years previous to this, but I hardly think it matters all that much when what you have here is a highly enjoyable, totally exhilarating and fast paced sequel featuring a rightfully deserved Oscar winning performance from Paul Newman.

I think what I really loved about ‘The Hustler’ was its effectiveness from being shot completely in black and white, making the lighting a real stand out feature, especially with the smoky bar scenes when the heat was really on during the high stakes snooker matches.

What’s amazing about these two films is the fact they’re focused on a sport I know little to nothing about and have little interest in, but yet, I still seem to love them both to bits just for the sheer energy and high level of intensity it brings to the table, so to speak. Special credit is definitely due to Tom Cruise’s dazzling performance as the young, cocky but talented Vincent Lauria, who proves once again he can really act and very nearly threatens to steal the spotlight from Newman.

If you watch this expecting the same usual level of violence from Scorsese that is evident in the likes of Casino and Goodfellas, then you might as well look elsewhere as there’s no denying that you’ll be gravely disappointed with this. When it was first released in 1986, this film was slammed hard by both critics and audiences (I guess they weren’t ready to experience anything different from the director back in the 80s) – stupid american movie-goers of the eighties. *face palm*
However, if, on the other hand you’re looking for a worthy enough sequel that’s strong enough by its own merits to stand tall on one self to even come close to match its predecessor, complete with Scorsese’s unique handling of technical camera work, then look no further. You’re in for one hell of a treat!

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