25 years on, Fast Eddie Felson (Newman, repeating his role in The Hustler) is a part-time liquor salesman who keeps his interest in pool and hustling alive by staking players of promise. Enter Vince (Cruise), whose talents Eddie persuasively harnesses to his own experience en route to a nine-ball tournament in Atlantic City. Vince is likeable but arrogant, skilful but naïve, and what's more he's accompanied by a precocious girl-friend (Mastrantonio) who spreads her time between flirting with Eddie and massaging young Vince's cue (Babushka or otherwise). Anyone looking for a repeat of the immortal The Hustler will not only be disappointed but downright stupid: The Color of Money is a film for the '80s with many of that decade's strongest preoccupations. The mixture of mutual need and mistrust in the relationship between Vince and Eddie is only one of the motors in a film that sees Scorsese's direction at its most downmarket and upbeat - never have pool tables, balls and cues looked so rich and strange - and has one of the most protean and compelling music soundtracks (Clapton, Charlie Parker, Warren Zevon, Bo Diddley) in ages. As Eddie tells Vince, 'Pool excellence is not about excellent pool'; and in a scene in which Newman recoils from the thought that he is a Frankenstein, trying to recreate his own youth in the person of another, the whole meaning of the hustle, the game of life, becomes spectacularly clear.
Cast and crew
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio