|Directed by||Mars Callahan|
|Produced by||Karen Beninati, Paul Brooks, Carol Gillson, John J. Hermansen, David Kronemeyer, Nancy Lanham, Vincent Newman, Scott Niemeyer, Joey Nittolo, David Peters, Tucker Tooley, Norm Waitt|
|Written by||Mars Callahan
|Music by||Richard Glasser
|Editing by||James Tooley|
|Studio||Gold Circle Films|
|Distributed by||Samuel Goldwyn Films|
|Running time||94 minutes|
The film also stars Alison Eastwood, Michael Rosenbaum, Rick Schroder, Rod Steiger (in his final performance), Chazz Palminteri, and Christopher Walken. It is the story of a pool hustler who is opposed by Joe (his former mentor) and Joe's new prodigy, in a climactic big-stakes nine-ball match.
Obsessed by the world of pool, Johnny (Mars Callahan) could be one of the best. But his mentor and "trainer" Joe (Chazz Palminteri), a shady hustler who decides how and who Johnny plays, is holding him back from his dream. When the day finally comes, Johnny breaks from Joe, which leads to only one thing—violence. Joe is beaten up by some of Johnny's buddies as a sign to leave him alone, and with this final act of freedom, Johnny leaves the world of pool-sharking.
After an ultimatum from his girlfriend Tara (Alison Eastwood), Johnny finally commits to a "real" job in the construction business, but is soon miserable there. He finds himself spending most of his time with his younger brother Danny (Michael Rosenbaum) who it seems is following in his footsteps on the road to a life Johnny left when he broke from Joe.
As for Joe, he is bent on revenge for the beating he took, and soon he has a new protégé Brad (Rick Schroder) who is just as good if not better than Johnny. And he's got his eye on Johnny's brother.
The two play a high-stakes game of pool which ends in a huge debt owed to Joe, and soon Johnny finds that his brother is in jail for trying to steal the money he owes. The only way out for Johnny is to play Brad, which results in a "race to nine" showdown that pits two of the greatest players against each other for large sums of money, and Johnny and Danny's lives.
The game comes down to a very difficult shot for Brad. While calculating how to take the shot, Johnny provokes Brad by telling him how easy the shot is and how he would pay him to take it for him. Johnny takes the shot but doesn't sink the final ball. As Brad prepares to take the winning shot, Johnny stops him. Since he had taken Brad's shot for him, it is now Johnny's turn. Johnny easily sinks the last ball and wins the game, using hustling techniques he learned from Joe to do so. In the last scene, Johnny is playing on the pro tour.
- Christopher Walken made the difficult trick shot to win the match against Tara's (Eastwood) boss on the first take. He was supposed to make a "trial run" for the scene, but he asked that the cameras go ahead and roll, in case he happened to make it on his first try, and he did.
- There were no camera tricks or special film editing used for any of the billiards shots in the film, although many of the special "trick shots" (other than the one above) were performed by billiards legend Robert "Cotton" Leblanc. Mike Massey, another world renowned trick shot performer, has a cameo appearance as "St. Louis" Louie in the film as well.
- The band scene was filmed at the Dead Goat Saloon in the Arrowhead Plaza in Salt Lake City, Utah. The only differences between the movie version and the real saloon are the drapes behind the band and that the dance floor does not have round tables.
- In real life Mars Callahan is an accomplished pool player who met co-writer Chris Corso in a pool hall where each was trying to hustle the other. After a bitterly contested game (neither will tell who actually won) the two became best friends. Swapping war stories about their mutual experiences playing pool, the two decided to write a script based on their experiences and observations. Two weeks later the script was completed, but it would take another ten years to get it to the big screen.
- Rod Steiger's last film.
- Mars Callahan as Johnny Doyle
- Chazz Palminteri as Joe
- Rod Steiger as Nick
- Michael Rosenbaum as Danny Doyle
- Rick Schroder as Brad
- Alison Eastwood as Tara
- Christopher Walken as Uncle Mike
- Mike Massey as St. Louis Louie
- Chris Corso as Houseman
- Robert LeBlanc as Tournament Pro
- Charlie Terrell as Guitar player in club band
- Ernie Reyes, Jr. as Tang
- Glenn Plummer as Chico
- Anson Mount as Chris
- Phillip Glasser as Max
- A. O. Scott. "Poolhall Junkies". The New York Times.
- Manohla Dargis (2003-02-28). "Sharks sink their teeth into pool and platitudes". The Los Angeles Times.