Essential. An excellent, performance driven piece and a career high for Newman. The script is near perfect, whilst the overall screenplay focuses not solely on the game of pool but on the way it holds it's player's psychology to ransom. Rossen's direction and Dede Allen's editing combine to create a seedy, uncompromising vision of pool hustling where respect is gained but success is void.
i'm a sucker for these hysterical "actor's-studio" type melodramas, and this is one of the best. the formal stuff works well - pool turns out to be tense and cinematic. it's also an effective metaphor for addiction, ego and money lust. as the story slips off into piper laurie's surprisingly complex abyss, rossen destabilizes the machismo we initially came for. george c. scott is especially menacing and melancholic.
A performance film of the first order with sublime academy award nominated performances by Newman, Laurie, Gleason and especially George C. Scott. Scott should have won the oscar for his slimey, inhuman performance. Oscar winning black and white cinematography and art direction. Rossen and Carroll's adaptation of the source material was riviting. "character...i found it in a hotel room in louisville..."
One of those films I've only seen once because that's really all I needed. But I still remember being taken back or blown away is probably the better choice of words, by the gloomy worldview, unconventional photography, and one of those rare performances by Newman that's not just great but perfectly in tuned with the film's energy. Time to buckle up for a rewatch.
A good movie to show students who want to learn editing principles. When the actual action on the table gets more important, the movie cuts in closer and quicker to the players' faces, not the balls or cues -- the game is in the mind. The movie quickens and slows its pace perfectly with Eddie's mindset. --PolarisDiB