The Hustler

From Quotes
Love is the extra effort we make in our dealings with those whom we do not like and once you understand that, you understand all. This idea that love overtakes you is nonsense. This is but a polite manifestation of sex. To love another you have to undertake some fragment of their destiny.
Quentin Crisp
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The Hustler is a 1961 film about an up-and-coming pool player who plays a long-time champion in a single high-stakes match.

Directed by Robert Rossen. Written by Sidney Carroll and Robert Rossen, based on the novel by Walter Tevis.
A motion picture that probes the stranger... the pick-up... why a man hustles for a buck or a place in the sun! taglines

Eddie Felson

  • How much am I gonna win tonight? Ten grand, I'm gonna win ten grand in one night. Well, who's gonna beat me?...I mean, what other pool room is there in the country where a guy can walk out with ten grand in one night
  • [about Minnesota Fats] He is great! Geez, that old Fat Man. Look at the way he moves, like a dancer...And those fingers, them chubby fingers. And that stroke, it's like he's uh, like he's playin' a violin or somethin'.
  • You know, I gotta hunch, Fat Man. I've gotta hunch it's me from here-on in...I mean, did that ever happen to you? When all of a sudden, you feel like you can't miss? 'Cause I dreamed about this game, Fat Man. And I dreamed about this game every night on the road...You know, this is my table, man, I own it...
  • [explaining his pool cue case] This guy told me when I came to the big city, I'd have to have a machine gun, so I bought one.
  • I'm gonna beat that Fat Man, with that curly hair and those diamond rings and that carnation.
  • [After discovering that Charlie held some money out on him] With that fifteen hundred, I could have beat him. That's all I needed Charlie...You'd love to keep me hustlin' for ya, huh, wouldn't ya? I mean, a couple more years with me scufflin' around, in them little towns and those back alleys, you might make yourself enough to get a little pool room back in Oakland - six tables and a handbook on the side...Lay down and die by yourself.
  • Boy! Everybody, everybody wants a piece of me.
  • Maybe I'm not such a high-class piece of property right now. But that twenty-five percent slice of somethin' big is better than a hundred percent slice of nothin'.

Sarah Packard

  • Two ships that pass in the night should always buy each other breakfast.
  • I'm a college girl, two days a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, I go to college...I'm the emancipated type, real emancipated...I've got nothing else to do on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • [to Eddie] Why me? [Without answering, he hungrily kisses her. She pushes him back.] Please, please, you're too hungry.
  • When I'm drunk, I lie...Look, I've got troubles and I think maybe you've got troubles. Maybe it'd be better if we just leave each other alone.
  • I've been living here almost three years. Now in three days, it seems as if I know everybody. I pass people on the street. I want to stop them and say, 'Listen, I got a fella.'
  • [to Eddie] We have a contract of depravity. All we have to do is pull the blinds down.
  • [to Eddie, stumbling after some drinks at the bus terminal] I'm not drunk. I'm lame.

Bert Gordon

  • [to Eddie] start drinking whiskey gambling - it gives you an excuse for losing. That's something you don't need, an excuse for losing.
  • [to Eddie] James Findlay is a very rich man. His grandfather left him twenty-five percent of his tobacco company...He's a gentleman. Gentlemen gamble. He gets his kicks playin' a hustler. He's got an old Southern mansion with a pool table in the basement, drinks eight year-old bourbon, smokes a hawk-tipped cigarette...I never saw him play. They say he's one of the best...I've got confidence in Findlay...That means I've got confidence that he's a loser, all the way a loser. You happen to be about only one-half loser, the other half winner.
  • It will be a lot of laughs. Findlay's parties are famous. He invites everybody from top to bottom. From high society to every town hustler and tramp in town. It's another way he has of getting his kicks. It excites him to be around what he calls the criminal type. Some men are like that. Some women too.
  • I didn't ask him, 'Can he beat ya?' I already know he can beat ya. I asked him, 'Will he?' To Eddie, that's two different things.
  • [to Eddie, about Sarah] She come in here Eddie and asked me for a drink. I give her one. We had a few more. Eddie, she came in here.


  • Big John: [to Charlie Burns] Take your boy and go home. Fats don't need your money. There's no way you can beat him. Nobody's beat him in fifteen years. He's the best in the country.
  • Charlie Burns: [to Eddie] We were partners. We were more than partners.
  • Minnesota Fats: I quit, Eddie. I can't beat you...[To Gordon] You've got yourself a pool player.
  • James Findlay: [to Bert Gordon, referring to a statue of the devil] This fellow here bears a striking resemblance to you. It seems as though you might have modeled for the artist.


Charlie: It's quiet.
Eddie: Yeah, like a church. Church of the Good Hustler.
Charlie: It looks more like a morgue to me. Those tables are the slabs they lay the stiffs on.
Eddie: I'll be alive when I get out, Charlie.

Eddie: What, no bar?
Cashier: No bar, no pinball machines, no bowling alleys, just pool... nothing else. This is Ames mister.

Minnesota Fats: You shoot a good stick.
Eddie: They say Minnesota Fats is the best in the country out where I come from...They say that old Fats just shoots the eyes right off them balls.
Minnesota Fats: Big John? Do you think this boy is a hustler? [to Eddie] Do you like to gamble, Eddie? Gamble money on pool games?
Eddie: Fats, let's you and I shoot a game of straight pool.
Minnesota Fats: A hundred dollars.
Eddie: Well, you shoot big-time pool, Fats. I mean, that's what everybody says, 'You shoot big-time pool.' Let's make it two hundred dollars a game.
Minnesota Fats: Now I know why they call you 'Fast' Eddie. Eddie, you talk my kind of talk.

Eddie: Didn't leave you much.
Minnesota Fats: You left enough.

Charlie: Quit, he's too good.
Eddie: Charlie, I'm gonna take him.

Eddie: Well, you don't leave much when you miss, do ya Fat Man?
Minnesota Fats: That's what the game's all about.

Charlie: [after they've played all night] The pool game is over.
Eddie: The pool game is over when Fats says it's over...I came after him and I'm gonna get him. I'm goin' with him all the way. The pool game is not over until Minnesota Fats says it's over. Is it over, Fats?
[Fats turns to Gordon for the answer.]
Eddie: [to Gordon] I'm gonna beat him, Mister. I beat him all night and I'm gonna beat him all day. I'm, I'm the best you ever seen, Fats. I'm the best there is. Now even if you beat me, I'm still the best.
Gordon: [to Fats] Stay with this kid. He's a loser.
Eddie: [to Charlie] What did he say?

Minnesota Fats: [After playing for 25 straight hours] Fast Eddie, let's play some pool.
Eddie: [unsteadily] You look beautiful, Fats, just like a baby, all pink and powdered up.
Charlie: What are ya tryin' to do Eddie? Beat him? You beat him bad. Do you want to kill yourself?
Eddie: What are ya, chicken, Charlie?
Charlie: Yeah, maybe that's it, I'm chicken.

Sarah: Where do you live?
Eddie: Around.
Sarah: I know where you live. In a locker in the bus station. What's it like living in a locker?
Eddie: Cramped. Do you always drink like this so early in the morning?

Eddie: The name's Eddie.
Sarah: The name should be Eddie. What should my name be?
Eddie: I don't know. Whatever you'd like it to be?
Sarah: I'd like it to be what it is, Sarah. That's a Biblical name. You wanna know it's meaning?

Sarah: How did you know my name is Sarah?
Eddie: You told me last night.
Sarah: I always lie when I drink.
Eddie: Okay, so what is your name today?
Sarah: Sarah.

Charlie Burns: [to Sarah] This boy is the greatest pool hustler you ever saw, a real high-class con-man. He can charm anybody into anything. Did he ever tell you how well we've been doing on the road. We had everything. We ate good, we slept late, we had money to burn. Whiskey, dames, excuse me. I'll tell you what, take her along. I'll tell you what else, you don't want to start right away, we won't start it right away. We'll get in the car and drive to Miami, get all this crud out of your system. Have a few laughs, lie in the sun for a couple of weeks.
Eddie: With what?
Charlie: Don't worry about it. I'll raise the money.
Eddie: Oh yeah, where?
Charlie: What's the difference where? I'll raise it.

Sarah: What else have we got? We never talk about anything. We stay in this room and we drink and make love. We're strangers. What happens when the liquor and the money run out, Eddie? You told Charlie to lay down and die. Will you say that to me too? What happens, Eddie?
Eddie: Just buy yourself another rich old lover.
Sarah: That's right, and I'm sure you'll help me.
[Eddie viciously slaps her across the face.]
Sarah: You waiting for me to cry? You bum. You pool-room bum.

Gordon: I don't think there's a pool player alive who shoots better pool than I saw you shoot the other night at Ames. You got talent.
Eddie: So I got talent? So what beat me?
Gordon: Character.
Eddie: Sure, sure.
Gordon: You're damn right I'm sure. Everybody's got talent, I got talent. You think you can play big-money straight pool or poker for forty straight hours on nothing but talent? You think they call Minnesota Fats the best in the country just cause he got talent? Nah, Minnesota Fats's got more character in one finger than you got in your whole skinny body.
Eddie: I got drunk.
Gordon: He drank as much whiskey as you do.
Eddie: Maybe he knows how to drink.
Gordon: You bet he knows how. You think that's a talent too, huh, knowin' how to drink whiskey? You think Minnesota Fats was born knowin' how to drink?
Eddie: OK, OK, what do I do now? Lie down on the floor and, uh, bow from the ankles? What do I do, go home?
Gordon: That's your problem.
Eddie: So I stay. I stay until I hustle up enough to play Fats again. And maybe by that time, I'll develop myself some character.
Gordon: [chuckling] Maybe by that time you'll die of old age. How much do you think you'll, uh, need?
Eddie: A thousand.
Gordon: Naw, three thousand at least. He'll start you off at five hundred a game, he'll beat the pants off ya. That's the way he plays when he comes up against a man who knows the way the game is. He'll beat you flat four or five times, maybe more, depending on how, uh, steady your nerves are. Then he might, just might be a little scared of ya, and that could change things, but I wouldn't count on it.
Eddie: How do you know, huh, when nobody knows that much?
Gordon: You see that big car parked out by the fireplug on your way in? Well, that's mine. I like that car. But I get a new one every year, because I make it my business to know what guys like you and Minnesota Fats are gonna do. I made enough off you the other night to pay for it twice over.

Gordon: Eddie, you're a born loser.
Eddie: What's that supposed to mean?
Gordon: First time in ten years I ever saw Minnesota Fats hooked, really hooked. But you let him off.
Eddie: I told you, I got drunk.
Gordon: Sure you got drunk, the best excuse in the world for losin'. No trouble losin' when you got a good excuse. And winning - that can be heavy on your back too, like a monkey. Drop that load too when you got an excuse. All you gotta do is learn to feel sorry for yourself. That's one of the best indoor sports, feelin' sorry for yourself. A sport enjoyed by all - especially the born loser.

Eddie: [After Gordon has offered to front him the money, for a 75-25 split of the winnings] That's a pretty big slice. Who do you think you are, General Motors?
Gordon: How much you think you're worth these days? I'm puttin' up the money, I'm puttin' up the time. For that, I get seventy-five percent return on my money - if you win.
Eddie: Do you think I can lose?
Gordon: I never saw you do anything else.
Eddie: You saw me beat Minnesota Fats for eighteen thousand dollars.
Gordon: Look, you want to hustle pool, don't ya? This game isn't like football. Nobody pays you for yardage. When you hustle, you keep score real simple. At the end of the game, you count up your money. That's how you find out who's best. It's the only way.
Eddie: Why back me, then, huh? Why don't you go back yourself? Go find yourself a big fat poker game and get rich. You know all the angles.
Gordon: I'm already rich. But I like action. That's one thing I think you're good for - is action. Besides, like I say, you got talent.
Eddie: Yeah, you already told me that. You cut that slice down to bite size, maybe we could talk.
Gordon: No, we don't talk. I don't make bad bets. Seventy-five, twenty-five, that's it.
Eddie: Kiss off!
Gordon: Hey wait! What are you gonna do about the money?
Eddie: There are places. I'll scuffle around.
Gordon: The word's out on you, Eddie. You walk in the wrong kind of place, they'll eat ya alive.
Eddie: And when did you adopt me?
Gordon: I don't know when it was.

Eddie: Sarah, do you think I'm a loser?
Sarah: A loser?
Eddie: Yeah. I met this guy, Gordon, Bert Gordon. He said I was a born loser.
Sarah: Would he know?
Eddie: He knows a lot.
Sarah: Why did he tell you?
Eddie: I don't know, I'm not sure. He said there are people who, uh, who want to lose, who are always lookin' for an excuse to lose.
Sarah: What does he do, this Bert Gordon?
Eddie: He's a gambler.
Sarah: Is he a winner?
Eddie: He owns things.
Sarah: Is that what makes a winner?
Eddie: What else does?
Sarah: Does it bother you what he said?
Eddie: Yeah. Yeah, it bothers me a lot. Cause you see twice, Sarah, once at Ames with Minnesota Fats, and then again at Arthurs, you know, in that cheap, crummy pool room. Now why did I do it Sarah, why did I do it? I could've beat that guy, I could've beat him cold. He never would have known. But I just had to show him. Just had to show those creeps and those punks what the game is like when it's great, when it's really great. You know, like anything can be great, anything can be great. I don't care - brick-laying can be great if a guy knows. If he knows what he's doin' and why and if he can make it come off.

Eddie: When I'm goin', when I'm really goin', I feel like a, like a jockey must feel when he's sittin' on his horse, he's got all that speed and that power underneath him, he's coming into the stretch, the pressure's on him - and he knows. He just feels, when to let it go and how much. 'Cause he's got everything workin' for him - timing, touch. It's a great feeling, boy - it's a real great feeling - when you're right and you know you're right. Like all of a sudden, I got oil in my arm. Pool cue's part of me. You know, it's a - pool cue, it's got nerves in it. It's a piece of wood; it's got nerves in it. You can feel the roll of those balls. You don't have to look. You just know. You make shots that nobody's ever made before. And you play that game the way nobody's ever played it before.
Sarah: You're not a loser, Eddie. You're a winner. Some men never get to feel that way about anything. I love you, Eddie.

Eddie: You know, someday Sarah, you're gonna settle down. You're gonna marry a college professor. You're gonna write a great book - maybe about me, huh? Fast Eddie Felson, Hustler.
Sarah: I love you.
Eddie: Do you need the words?
Sarah: Yes, I need them very much. If you ever say them, I'll never let you take them back.

Eddie: A big creep broke my thumbs.
Gordon: A man named Turk Baker?
Eddie: You know everybody, don't ya?
Gordon: Everybody who can hurt me. Everybody who can help me pays.
Eddie: Maybe you ought to give me lessons.
Gordon: Sign up.
Eddie: Where do I sign?

Sarah: Leave now.
Eddie: Grow up.
Sarah: Why should I?
Eddie: Sarah, I'm going to Kentucky to play pool with a guy by the name of Findlay. Now I need the action and I need the money. I told ya I'd be back.
Sarah: If you were going to come back, you wouldn't have taken me out tonight, you wouldn't have bought this dress. You're hustling me, Eddie. You've never stopped hustling me.
Eddie: No, I never hustled you, even when I thought I was, and you know it.
Sarah: What do you want me to do, just sit here and wait, your faithful looking Sarah. Pull all the shades down and sit. When you feel like coming back, you'll come back and you'll love me, and then you'll go away again. Is that your idea of love?
Eddie: I got no idea of love. Neither of you, I mean, neither one of us would know what it was if we saw it comin' down the street.
Sarah: I'd know it, Eddie. I'd know it. For God's sakes, what are you trying to do to me? I love you.
Eddie: Well, what's your idea of love - chains?
Sarah: I made you up, didn't I, Eddie? You weren't real. I made you up, like everything else. There was no car crash, Eddie. When I was five, I had polio. I was never an actress. The 'rich old man' is my father. He walked out on us when I was seven. He sends me a check every month. That's how he buys his way out of my life. The men I've known - after they've left, I'd say they weren't real. I made them up. But you, Eddie, I wanted you to be real. I'm so scared. I'm scared.

Gordon: Fats went into the john, see, washed his face, cleaned his fingernails, made his mind a blank, combed his hair, came back all ready to go. You were through. You saw him, you saw how he looked, clean, all set to start all over again. Hold tight and push hard. And you know what you were doin'? You were waitin' to get beaten, flattened down on your butt, swimmin' around in glory and whiskey. You were probably decidin' how you can lose.
Sarah: What makes you know so much? How do you know what Eddie was thinking?
Gordon: I know. I've been there myself. We've all been there, haven't we, Miss Packard?...[To Eddie] How's your hand?
Eddie: Fine.
Gordon: Good. I'd hate to think I was puttin' my money on a cripple.
Eddie: Hey, what do ya say somethin' like that for?
Sarah: It's alright, Eddie. I'm sure Mr. Gordon meant no offense. It's a figure of speech.
Gordon: That's right, Miss Packard.
Sarah: A fact is a fact.
Gordon: Smart girl, Eddie.

Gordon: I want to talk to you.
Sarah: Do we need words?
Gordon: Yeah, I think we do. We could try to cut each other up, but that would be bad for everybody. Bad for me, bad for you. Worst of all, it would be bad for Eddie.
Sarah: You know what's good for him.
Gordon: To win.
Sarah: For whom and for what?
Gordon: For what makes the world go 'round. For money - and for glory.
Sarah: You didn't answer my first question. For whom?
Gordon: Today for me, tomorrow for himself.
Sarah: No, there's no tomorrow, not with you. You own all the tomorrows because you buy them today - and you buy cheap.
Gordon: Nobody has to sell.
Sarah: You bastard.
Gordon: Listen, Miss Lady Bird. You're here on a rain-check and I know it. You're hangin' on by your nails. You let that glory whistle blow loud and clear for Eddie, and you're a wreck on a railroad track. You're a horse that finished last. Now don't make trouble, Miss Lady Bird. Live and let live - while you can! [chuckling] I'll make it up to you.
Sarah: How?
Gordon: You tell me.

Eddie: I thought we came here to play pool.
Findlay: I don't play pool, Mr. Felson. I play billiards. My house, my game. You don't have to play if you don't want to.
Gordon: We won't.
Eddie: Come on Bert, let me play him.

Eddie: Please don't get off me now, Bert.
Gordon: I know when to quit and you don't. Win or lose, you don't know when to quit.
Eddie: [on his knees] What do ya want me to do, huh? What do ya want me to do? Just say it and you got it, but please don't get off me now.
Sarah: Don't beg him, Eddie.
Eddie: Go on back to the hotel.
Sarah: Please Eddie, don't beg him.
Eddie: Go on back to the hotel, take a cab. Go on back to the hotel.
Sarah: Doesn't all of this come through to you, Eddie? Doesn't any of this mean anything to you? That man, this place, the people. They wear masks, Eddie and underneath the masks they're perverted, twisted, crippled....
Eddie: Shut up!
Sarah: Don't wear a mask, Eddie. You don't have to. That's Turk, Eddie, the man who broke your thumbs. Well, he's not gonna break your thumbs. He'll break your heart, your guts, and for the same reason. He hates you because of what you are, cause of what you have and he hasn't.
Eddie: Would you get off my back, Sarah, once and for all, would you get out?! Would you get off my back?!
Gordon: Go ahead and play him, Eddie. Play him for a thousand dollars a game.

Gordon: He told me to give you some money.
Sarah: Put it on the bed. That's the way it's done, isn't it?
Gordon: That's the way it's done.
Sarah: And that way you are looking at me. Is that the way you look at a man you've just beaten? As if you've just taken his money and now you want his ... his pride?
Gordon: All I want's the money.
Sarah: Sure, sure, just the money. The aristocratic pleasure of seeing him fall apart. You're a Roman, Bert. You have to win more.
[He grabs her and kisses her]
Sarah: Is that a drink?

Eddie: That's my bank roll, my life's savings. Whatsa matter Fats? All you gotta do is beat me the first game and I'm on my way back to Oakland.
Minnesota Fats: Let's go.
Eddie: Get on me, Bert, I can't lose.

Eddie: How should I play that one, Bert? Play it safe? That's the way you always told me to play it, safe. Play the percentage. Well here we go, fast and loose. One ball, corner pocket. Yeah, percentage players die broke too, don't they, Bert? How can I lose? Twelve ball. How can I lose? Because you were right. It's not enough that ya just have talent. You gotta have character, too. Four ball. Yeah, I sure got character now. I picked it up in a hotel room in Louisville.
Minnesota Fats: Shoot pool, Fast Eddie.
Eddie: I'm shootin' pool, Fats. When I miss, you can shoot. Five ball. Fourteen ball. Twelve ball...

Gordon: Where do you think you're going? Eddie? You owe me money!
Eddie: Well, just how do ya figure that, Bert? Whaddya figure I owe ya?
Gordon: Half.
Eddie: In Louisville, it was seventy-five percent.
Gordon: Well, here it's half.
Eddie: What if I don't pay ya, Bert?
Gordon: [laughs] You don't pay me? You're gonna get your thumbs broken again. And your fingers. If I want 'em to, they're gonna break your right arm in three or four places.
Minnesota Fats: You better pay him, Eddie.
Eddie: So you figure you're still my manager, huh?
Gordon: I'm a businessman, kid.
Eddie: Well, you gotta lot of games lined up for me?
Gordon: Boy, we're gonna make a lotta money together from now on.
Eddie: Fifty percent?
Gordon: Nah, it don't have to be fifty. It'll be thirty or twenty-five.
Eddie: We really stuck the knife in her, didn't we, Bert?
Gordon: Ahh!
Eddie: Boy, we really gave it to her good.
Gordon: If it didn't happen in Louisville, it'd happen someplace else. If it didn't happen now, it'd happen six months from now. That's the kind of a dame she was.
Eddie: Then we twisted it, didn't we, Bert? Of course, maybe that doesn't stick in your throat, 'cause you spit it out just the way you spit out everything else. But it sticks in mine. I loved her, Bert. I traded her in on a pool game. But that wouldn't mean anything to you because who did you ever care about. 'Just win,' 'Win!' you said, 'win, that's the important thing.' You don't know what winning is, Bert. You're a loser. 'Cause you're dead inside and ya can't live unless you make everything dead around ya! Too high, Bert - the price is too high. If I take it, she never lived. She never died. And we both know that's not true, Bert, don't we, huh? She lived, she died. Boy, you better, you tell your boys they better kill me, Bert. They better go all the way with me, but if they just bust me up, I'll put all those pieces back together again, then so help me, so help me God, Bert, I'm gonna come back here and I'm gonna kill you. [Bert's thugs move toward Eddie]
Gordon: [Gordon gestures to his goons to back off.] All right. All right. Only, uh, don't ever walk into a big-time pool hall again.

Eddie: Fat Man, you shoot a great game of pool.
Minnesota Fats: So do you, Fast Eddie.


  • A motion picture that probes the stranger... the pick-up... why a man hustles for a buck or a place in the sun!
  • They called him "Fast Eddie"... He was a winner... He was a loser... He was a hustler.
  • Only the angel who falls knows the depths of hell.
  • It delves without compromise into the hungers that lie deep within us all.
  • Trapped by the underworld . . . they risked love and fortune in a desperate gamble!


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