The worst thing about The Color of Money is that it is a sequel to The Hustler (for trivia buffs, also the first movie I ever reviewed on this site) and of course, it does not live up the heights set by that level of a classic. Almost no film could.
That said, if one can view this movie without thinking of the former, which I admit is difficult, there is a very good film here.
Martin Scorsese is at the height of his stylistic powers here in this period between Raging Bull and Goodfellas.
Paul Newman, who won the Oscar in this movie that he deserved in the original, is captivating once again as pool shark “Fast Eddie” and it is fascinating to see such a character a quarter century down the road.
Tom Cruise is also well cast as the young prodigy Vincent (and if you forget his name, it’s printed on the front of his shirt) that Eddie takes under his wing, but who of course ignores almost all of the advice that he gives him.
The beautiful and smart looking Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio plays Vincent’s girlfriend who goes along for the ride here. It’s interesting to note that Newman’s “Fast Eddie” character has basically become the epitome of everything he despised by the end of The Hustler, essentially taking over the George C. Scott role from that film.
Just like Scott’s character latched onto a young Fast Eddie, so too does he now latch onto Vincent to lift himself up out of the recent slump he’s fallen into.
This is a beautifully shot, well acted, and very entertaining movie that will make you want to reach for your pool cue and head down to the local Billiard Parlor to shoot some “9 Ball” (a game that old time pool hustlers regard with contempt).
To the extent that I disliked it when I was younger I blame on unfair expectations in comparison to “The Hustler.” Viewed on its’ own terms, it is a fine film.
The Color of Money gets a four out of five: GREAT.