The Hustler Robert Rossen

The Hustler Robert Rossen
Paul Newman’s 1961 breakthrough The Hustler -- in which he plays a "born loser” pool hustler who comes up against a legend in the form of Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) -- is a cinematic masterpiece, of that there’s no doubt. That’s why it’s been reissued several times on DVD, most recently in a 2002 "Special Edition,” and now via this two-disc set, inaccurately labelled as "all new.” But a funny thing happened on the way to recycling the features and commentary from the 2002 set -- the perspective on the film changed. Most of the attention in the last "Special Edition” focused on the obvious: Newman’s tour-de-force performance, the bravura scenes around the billiards table and the pool hall culture the film portrays. But in this new version, which retains most of the featurettes while adding three new ones, the focus has shifted slightly to The Hustler as a character journey, one more interested in the arc of Newman’s Fast Eddie Felson than with the chalk-and-cue details. It’s fascinating not because these new featurettes offer much fresh insight but because the film supports both interpretations equally. If you’ve already enjoyed it, don’t be fooled by the fancy packaging -- this hustle is already very familiar. Plus: commentary, trick shot analysis, more. (Fox)