Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Color of Money (1986)

A few quick thoughts to begin this post.
The Hustleris a much better film than this sequel. Watch it before looking up Martin Scorses's follow-up effort from 1986.

It's too bad the only pairing of Paul Newman and Tom Cruise is in a so-so film.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio earned a best supporting Oscar nod for The Color of Money. Why do we rarely see her in movies now?

I watched The Hustler at the incredible State Theatre in Traverse City, Mich., in June. It's a must watch for fans of Paul Newman. His character, pool hustler Fast Eddie Felson, and his relationships with his girlfriend and chief nemesis in pool made for compelling viewing.

Here, Felson's involved with Janelle (Helen Shaver), a bartender at his business. There's no drama with their relationship. She gets upset when Felson decides to hit the road with young pool prospect Vincent Lauria (Cruise). Ho-hum. Jackie Gleason didn't say a lot as Minnesota Fats in The Hustler. But he carried himself with a very serious demeanor. A glare from him was withering. Cruise's Vincent is just annoying. More interesting are brief appearances by John Turturro and Forest Whitaker as other pool players on their way up.

Vincent has plenty of talent, but this young buck is immature. That could explain why he's working in a store for children and wears a T-shirt with his name on the front. His girlfriend, Carmen (Mastrantonio) is the brains of the operation. She gets what Felson wants to do. Turn Vincent into a money-making machine hustling pool. "We've got a racehorse here, a thoroughbred," Eddie tells Carmen. "You make him feel good. I teach him to run."

But too often Vincent tosses aside Eddie's advice and loses the chance to make plenty of cash as a result. Teacher and student part ways. Eddie decides to play again. They meet again at a nine-ball tournament in Atlantic City. Could a showdown be in the works?

Newman won an Oscar for his work here. He should have won following nominations for earlier films such as The Verdict and The Hustler. Those were standout roles.

The Color of Money offers viewers some very sharp shots of pool action. The soundtrack is extremely varied, from Phil Collins and Eric Clapton to Robbie Robertson and Mark Knopfler.

But this film just doesn't have a killer punch. Too bad.

RATING: 7/10

FUN FACTS: I didn't notice him, but Iggy Pop appears as a pool player.

A nod to The Hustler? A bartender puts a whack of cash on a game. Here, it's Alex Ross. He stood in for Matt Damon during filming of Good Will Hunting.
The Color of Money was one of four films for John Turturro in 1986. Off Beat, Gung Ho and Hannah and Her Sisters were the others.

The Color of Money was just Mastrantonio's third feature film. She was an extra in another Scorsese film, The King of Comedy, followed by Scarface.

No comments: