Martin Scorsese, considered as one of the major figures of the New Hollywood era, is known for blockbusters like Goodfellas, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Taxi Driver. But again, there is one movie that’s often forgotten but remains a legacy sequel to Robert Rossen’s 1961 film The Hustler. The Oscar-winning director’s 1986 movie, The Color Of Money got Paul Newman his first Oscar and shot Tom Cruise’s career.
Cruise, who was nowhere near the worldwide star he is today, starred as Vincent Lauria in the sports drama. During the shooting of this film, Cruise declared his natural talent in the pool, learning his own trick shots, but was denied doing his own stunt by Scorsese even though he mastered the shot in weeks to avoid the delay in filming.
Tom Cruise Mastered Every Trick Shot On His Own
Martin Scorsese, known for introducing talents like Robert De Niro, came up with The Color of Money in 1986. This was the time when Tom Cruise (who plays Vincent Lauria) wasn’t known for what he is today. But again, he was a natural at playing pool.
Expressing his talent in a movie that takes one to a world of “dimly lit rooms” and “steely-eyed hustlers”, Scorsese revealed that Cruise could have mastered a shot that involved the “cue ball jumping over others”. But again, it could have delayed filming.
On the other hand, Paul Newman, who reprised his role from The Hustler (1961) explained:
“Cruise was a natural at playing pool. He was fantastic and never had a pool cue in his hands and he was as good, if not better than I was, in five weeks. Waltzing around a pool hall with Fast Eddie’s legendary Balabushka in his hand, Vincent is asked what’s in the case he’s carrying.
With a toothy grin on his face, he delightedly answers, “Doom!” When playing such a character, it’s only right to learn a few trick shots of your own to back up the brag”
Despite the $600 million star mastering the shot in weeks, Scorsese enrolled in pro pool player Michael Sigel for that shot. But again, the director admitted that Cruise was extremely respectful and called “Paul Mr. Newman, and me Mr. Scorsese,” and they had to rough him up to stop saying that.
The Color of Money Was Termed Inferior To The Hustler
The Color of Money as a movie, is meant to be that road map, a small journey towards a higher understanding of life. In the movie, Fast Eddie (Paul Newman) says to his young protègè, Vincent (Tom Cruise), “It ain’t about pool, it’s about money.”
Martin Scorsese once explained in his sharp New York accent:
“Nine-ball is rotation pool. The balls are pocketed in numbered order. The only ball that means anything, that wins it, is the nine.
Now, the player can shoot eight trick shots in a row, blow the nine, and lose. On the other hand, the player can get the nine in on the break, if the balls spread right, and win.
Which is to say, that luck plays a part in nine-ball. But for some players, luck itself is an art.”
While the movie is praise-worthy for its metaphors between hustling and pool, it did lack in “narrative shapeliness.” Despite grossing $52.3 million at the box office against its $14.5 million budget, The Color of Money is still considered inferior to Robert Rossen’s 1961 film The Hustler.
But again, Martin Scorsese explains it best, “the movie is about a deception and then a clarity, a perversion and then a purity.” Having said that, one cannot deny that the 1961 film has cemented its reputation as a classic, courtesy of its scenes that have such “psychic weight that they grow in our memories.”
The Color of Money can be purchased on Vudu.