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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Color of Money Blu-Ray Review

Written by Kirk Baird

“Sometimes if you lose, you win.” — Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) in The Color of Money.

In celebration of its 25th anniversary, The Color of Money makes its debut on Blu-ray. It’s a barebones release: movie only and no extra features. But what really matters is what’s on screen. Paul Newman earned his only Oscar as he revisits the role of pool shark Fast Eddie Felson from 1961’s The Hustler. Now a successful liquor salesman, Felson’s been away from pool for decades — until he sees a brash young pool shark named Vince (Tom Cruise).

“You remind me that money won is twice as sweet as money earned,” Felson tells Vince.

Intoxicated by the familiar smell of smoky pool halls and driven by the chance at redemption, Felson takes Vince and his girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) under his tutelage with the goal of making it to Atlantic City for a major nine-ball tournament. But Vince proves stubborn as his protégé and Felson discovers that old passions never fade away.

Martin Scorsese directed The Color of Money, and his fingerprints are all over the film: the effective use of rock and roll to punctuate the energy and emotion of a scene; the dazzling and creative camera shots; the crackling dialogue (written by Richard Price and based on Walter Tevis’ novel). Cruise’s smooth charisma and toothy smile have never been put to better use, with the possible exception of Risky Business, and Mastrantonio is funny and sexy as a former waitress who’s latched onto a good thing and will do anything to keep it.

It’s Newman, though, who drives the film as the aging Felson, who long ago gave up the regrets of past troubles, but never his passion for pool. It’s a wonderful performance that, in hindsight, seems the summation of many years of work, even though Newman actively worked in movies for another 15 years.

The Color of Money is hardly a classic, but it is a worthy follow-up to The Hustler, and an entertaining and emotionally story on its own. Above all, it’s the satisfying redemption of a man who lost his most precious gift and finds a way to get it back.

Some other Paul Newman movies to consider:

The Hustler (1961)
Hud (1963)
The Sting (1973)
Slap Shot (1977)
The Verdict (1982)
Cars (2006)

Some other Tom Cruise movies to consider:

Top Gun (1986)
Rain Man (1988)
The Firm (1993)
Magnolia (1999)

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