The Color of Money
Paul Newman as Eddie Felson
Tom Cruise as Vincent Lauria
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Carmen
The Color of Money is like the Rocky of pool movies. The immaculate Paul Newman reprises his role (and wins an Oscar) as “Fast” Eddie Felson from 1961’s The Hustler to teach a young version of his former self in Vincent (Tom Cruise) the way of the billiard cue. This time the camera is controlled by none other than Martin Scorsese, whose gritty film style falls perfectly in line with the makings of underworld pool hustling.
Vincent can’t seem to latch on to self-control either, much like his mentor and cross-country manager Felson, even in an updated take on a now-respectable world of professional billiards. While the teacher teaches the aimless but talented Vincent and steers around his girlfriend’s manipulation, the two sides experience a falling out en route to Eddie’s reemergence as a player in the circuit and ultimately, a showdown with his former protégé Vincent.
Newman’s clutch performance is once again indicative of the same kind of self-assured chops he put forth in the grafter classic, The Sting, not to mention Cruise’s own impeccable timing and bravado. Walter Tevis’ novel of the same name is only loosely covered as Scorsese takes us on a ride down memory lane while having his characters combat similar greedy demons en route to a final redemption.
We’ve all felt the drive to beat someone better than us, whether it be in a sporting arena or professional career setting, which is precisely why, despite Vincent’s lust for winning, we feel for his desire to knock off the top dog in Eddie. Although the finale is not as cut and dry as this idea takes us, the story’s romantic tensions and cut-throat competitive streak keep the spirit of happiness through the lens of pool alive and well within film lovers and players everywhere.