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Happy Birthday Paul Newman!

Published January 27, 2005 in MOVIE HISTORY
By Bubba Craner | Image poster of The Hustler
Paul Newman Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson
Actor, political activist and foodstuffs maker, Paul Newman turned eighty years old today (Jan 26th)-Happy Birthday. Newman, as we all know is an accomplished actor, and in a celebratory fashion, we will recognize the movie that brought him an Oscar. He has received ten nominations over the course of his five-decade career, but it was the portrayal of the aged, Fast Eddie Felson in, The Color of Money that won him the award.

Paul Newman is Fast Eddie Felson

Fast Eddie Felson was a young pool hall hustler in, The Hustler, who made a name for himself, (the character anyway) but it was the talented direction of Martin Scorsese who allowed the aged Fast Eddie Felson to be fully explored; which led all the way to the echelon of acting awards.

The Color of Money was made in 1986 and was an instant classic, partly because of its prequel, The Hustler, though largely because of the performances of accomplished Newman, and young and charismatic Tom Cruise.

The movie starts out with Vincent (Tom Cruise) trying to hustle someone over a game of pool, however his hustle is actually used against him to do the same, and though he does lose his money, we are not sold of the idea of Vincent being out played by his opponent. It is just apparent that he knows not the art of the hustle; lucky for him, Fast Eddie Felson was watching and recognized his talent. Felson (Paul Newman) makes him an offer to teach him all the things about pool that would make him a pro, including the art of hustling. Vincent accepts his offer and he, Felson and Vincent's girlfriend Carmen, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, go on the road. Their plan is for Felson to teach Vincent all that he doesn't know while on their way to a big tournament. Felson will fund the project, but will be compensated with a portion or Vincent's winnings.

As life on the road turns sour for the three of them, as often does in Hollywood, Vincent and Carmen depart from Felson. However this doesn't seem to be that bad for either of the characters, Vincent and Carmen are left on the road, but with honed skills and half way to the big tournament they continue on. Felson has realized everything he has been missing and also brushes up on his cue skills and rolls down to the tournament.

At the tournament, the two do meet, however Scorsese never gives the audience the satisfaction of seeing them, 'really,' duel it out to see who is the better player, and though some argue that because of this the movie is somewhat anti-climatic, I don't believe that it takes away from the movie; maybe because if there is anyone who could end a movie like that it would be Scorsese.

The Color of Money not only gave Newman his first and only Oscar, but also brought a whole new audience to the world of Newman. I know that if it weren't for that movie I might not have taken the time to see some of his other classic films, like: Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The Sting.

Paul Newman's foodstuffs consist of gourmet fresh juices and dressings and all of the profits go to the Scott Newman Foundation, which was established after the drug related death of his son. His products can all be found under the "Newman's Own" label.

Congratulations Mr. Paul Newman, and thank you for giving us a legacy that will not be soon forgotten-and Happy Birthday!!


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Bubba Craner
Sources: Image poster of The Hustler

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