The Color of Money is a 1984 novel by American writer Walter Tevis, continuing the story of Edward "Fast Eddie" Felson from The Hustler (1959). The book was very loosely adapted into a 1986 film of the same name, with Paul Newman reprising his role from the movie version of The Hustler (1961). The film also stars Tom Cruise as Vincent, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Carmen, Helen Shaver as Janelle and John Turturro as Julian. The screenplay was written by Richard Price, and the film was directed by Martin Scorsese, featuring an original score by Robbie Robertson. It was given an "R" rating by the MPAA.
Many top American pool players of the 1980s had speaking roles, including Steve Mizerak, Grady Mathews, and Keith McCready, and there were many cameos, including Jimmy Mataya, Howard Vickery, Mark Jarvis, and Louie Roberts. Mike Sigel was the technical director, and he and Ewa Mataya Laurance served as technical consultants and shot-performers on the film. Another notable cameo is that of Iggy Pop, who plays one of the many contenders on the road. A young Forest Whitaker makes an extended appearance as a player as well. The title is a reference to the traditional green cloth (or baize) of a pool table being reminiscent of American currency notes.
In the book version of the sequel, Felson is no longer a professional pool player, but owns a pool hall. He takes up a again to go on tour versus Minnesota Fats (the fictional character from The Hustler, not Rudolph "Minnesota Fats" Wanderone) for a cable TV sports show. While losing to Fats, he regains some of his lost competitiveness and pride.
In the film version, Felson is a liquor salesman, who misses the , and goes back on the road as a for a skilled but unfocused protégé, Vincent, travelling with the latter's manipulative girlfriend, Carmen. Eddie teaches them how to hustle significant amounts of money, but becomes increasingly frustrated with them and with himself, until they have an explosive falling-out, and part ways. Eddie resumes competitive play himself, first hustling on "the road" and later in the professional tournament circuit, eventually coming head-to-head across the table with the now-successful (and treacherous) Vincent. Eddie beats Vincent, only to find out that Vincent threw the match and had had money riding against himself. Vincent gives Eddie $8,000 as a cut from the bet. Eddie, shocked by this discovery, proceeds to forfeit his next round match and give the money back to Vincent. He convinces Vincent to play him again, with both of their best games. Before the credits roll, Eddie states that if he doesn't beat Vincent now, he will in the future because, he remarks, "I'm back."
Subplots involve antagonism with Eddie's cocaine-abusing former sidekick Julian; Eddie's up-and-down romance with a bar owner, Janelle; sexual tension between Carmen and Eddie; and (as in the book) Eddie's returning sense of pride. Only minor references are made to the original movie (a returned character, Eddie's nickname, his formerly being shut out of the pool-hustling sphere, his preferred brand of whiskey, J.T.S. Brown, etc.), and Fats is not part of the story.
Director Scorsese had a cameo walking his dog, and another playing pool. Newman said that the best advice he was given by Scorsese was to "try not to be funny". Cruise performed most of his own shots. An exception was a over two balls to sink another. Scorsese believed Cruise could learn the shot, but that it would take too long, so the shot was performed for him by Mike Sigel. The "Balabushka" cue in the movie was actually a Joss J-18, which later became the Joss N-07 (not a Meucci as many believe), made to resemble a classic Balabushka.
The movie unexpectedly influenced John Carmack of id Software, who was one of the authors of the computer game Doom. Carmack has stated that the title of the game was inspired by Vincent's response when asked what he carried in his cue-case: "Doom.
Reflecting the general theme of the film, director Martin Scorsese delivers an opening uncredited voiceover, describing the game of nine-ball, over a scene of cigarette smoke and a piece of cue chalk:
The movie has positively influenced the popularity of pool. However, critical reviews have been mixed, with most of the reviews being positive, even earning a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 34 reviews, while some critics believed that the film was an inferior near-remake of The Hustler, and it is regarded by many as one of Scorsese's lesser films. Siskel and Ebert gave the film "two thumbs down," perhaps Scorsese's only film to receive such a review from the team. Scorsese himself admitted later on that he agreed to do the film in order to finance the production of The Last Temptation of Christ.
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