The Color of Money

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The Color of Money
The Color Of Money.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Robert Tanenbaum[1]
Directed byMartin Scorsese
Screenplay byRichard Price
Based onThe Color of Money
by Walter Tevis
Produced by
CinematographyMichael Ballhaus
Edited byThelma Schoonmaker
Music byRobbie Robertson
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release date
  • October 8, 1986 (1986-10-08) (Premiere)
  • October 17, 1986 (1986-10-17) (United States)
Running time
120 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$13.8 million
Box office$52.3 million

The Color of Money is a 1986 American sports drama film directed by Martin Scorsese. It was the ninth film released by Touchstone Pictures. The film was created from a screenplay by Richard Price, based on the 1984 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis. The film stars Paul Newman and Tom Cruise, with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Helen Shaver, and John Turturro in supporting roles. It features an original score by Robbie Robertson.

The film continues the story of pool hustler and stakehorse Edward "Fast Eddie" Felson from Tevis' first novel, The Hustler (1959), with Newman reprising his role from the 1961 film adaptation. It begins more than 25 years after the events of the previous film, with Eddie retired from the pool circuit. Newman won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance, his first Oscar win after eight nominations, seven of them for Best Actor. The film centered around the game of nine-ball, a pool variant played for high stakes. A challenge nine-ball match was named after it in 1997 at which Efren Reyes defeated Earl Strickland to win the largest single match purse in pool history of $100,000.


“Fast” Eddie Felson is a former pool hustler turned successful liquor salesman in Chicago. He still stakes bets for players, including fellow hustler Julian, who is outmatched at nine-ball by the young and charismatic Vincent Lauria. Recognizing Vincent’s skill, and his girlfriend Carmen’s inexperience at luring players to lose money, Eddie tells the couple of their excellent potential for hustling.

Carmen visits Eddie alone to inquire about his interest in Vincent. Finding him working at Child World, Eddie invites Vincent to leave the next day for six weeks of hustling on the road, culminating in a nine-ball tournament in Atlantic City. Manipulating Vincent’s insecurities about Carmen and giving him a valuable Balabushka cue stick, Eddie persuades him to accept his offer. Eddie’s abrupt departure upsets Julian, as well as Eddie’s girlfriend Janelle.

Vincent and Carmen hit the road with Eddie in his Cadillac, visiting a series of pool halls. Serving as Vincent’s stakehorse, Eddie attempts to teach him the art of hustling, but Vincent chafes at having to play below his ability. At a pool hall run by his old acquaintance Orvis, Eddie becomes fed up with Vincent’s arrogance and leaves him. Rebuking Carmen for her advances toward him, Eddie reminds her they are partners with a mutual business interest in Vincent. Eddie returns to find Vincent grandstanding to “Werewolves of London”, beating the pool hall’s best player but scaring off a wealthier mark. Eddie and Vincent talk frankly, agreeing Vincent must curb his ego if they are to succeed.

Eddie and Carmen struggle to rein in Vincent’s showboating, and his jealousy when they pose as lovers during a scam. After a string of successful games, Vincent plays the famed Grady Seasons, but is directed by Eddie to dump the game, to inflate the odds against Vincent in Atlantic City. Goaded by Grady, Vincent almost fails to throw the game, and Eddie is inspired to play again. After some success, Eddie is taken by a pool shark named Amos. Humiliated, Eddie leaves Vincent and Carmen with enough money to make it to Atlantic City, taking the Balabushka.

Eddie refines his skills at Orvis’ pool hall, gets into shape by swimming laps, and gets a pair of corrective lens sunglasses. On a winning streak, he enters the Atlantic City tournament and runs into Vincent and Carmen, overhearing them arrange a bet with another player. Eddie, winning against Julian; and Vincent, beating Grady, are set to face each other. Janelle arrives to support Eddie, who triumphs against Vincent. As Eddie and Janelle celebrate, Vincent and Carmen surprise Eddie with $8,000 – his “cut” of Vincent’s winnings from intentionally losing their match.

In his semifinal match, Eddie sees his reflection in the two-ball; disgruntled, he forfeits the game and returns Vincent’s money. With plans to live with Janelle, and determined to win legitimately, Eddie faces Vincent in a private match, declaring "I'm back!"



The Color of Money is an American sports film directed by Martin Scorsese and was released by Touchstone Pictures. The film was created from a screenplay by Richard Price, based on the 1984 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis. Although Tevis did author a screenplay, adapting the storyline from his novel, the filmmakers decided not to use it, instead crafting an entirely different story under Tevis' title.[2][3]

Scorsese has cited the influence of techniques and lighting in the 1947 Powell-Pressburger Black Narcissus in making the film. In particular he states that the extreme close ups of Tom Cruise around the pool table were inspired by those of the nuns in that film.[4] Lead star Paul Newman said that the best advice he was given by Scorsese was to "try not to be funny". Cruise performed most of his own pool shots. An exception was a jump shot over two balls to pot another. Scorsese believed Cruise could learn the shot, but that it would take too long, so the shot was performed for him by professional player Mike Sigel. Cruise mentioned that to prepare for the role, he bought a pool table for his apartment and practiced for hours on end. Standing in for the extremely valuable "Balabushka" cue in the movie was actually a Joss J-18 (which later became the Joss 10-N7), made to resemble a classic Balabushka.[5]

Sigel was a technical director, and he and fellow player Ewa Mataya Laurance served as technical consultants and shot performers on the film. Absent from the film is the character Minnesota Fats, played by Jackie Gleason in The Hustler. Newman later said that he had wanted the character to appear, but that none of the attempts to include him fit well into the story that was being written. According to Scorsese, Gleason apparently agreed with Newman's opinion that Minnesota Fats was not essential to the film's story. Scorsese said that Gleason was presented a draft of the script that had Fats worked into the narrative, but that upon reading it, Gleason declined to reprise the role because he felt that the character seemed to have been added as "an afterthought".[3][6]


The soundtrack to the motion picture was released by MCA Records in 1986.[7]

Track listing:

  1. "Who Owns This Place?" (Don Henley/Danny Kortchmar/J.D. Souther) – Don Henley (4:55)
  2. "It's in the Way That You Use It" (Eric Clapton/Robbie Robertson) – Eric Clapton (4:00)
  3. "Let Yourself In For It" (Palmer) – Robert Palmer (5:20)
  4. "Don't Tell Me Nothin'" (Willie Dixon) – Willie Dixon (4:42)
  5. "Two Brothers And A Stranger" (Mark Knopfler) – Mark Knopfler (2:42)
  6. "Standing On The Edge Of Love" (Jerry Lynn Williams) – B.B. King (3:59)
  7. "Modern Blues" (Robbie Robertson) – Robbie Robertson (2:57)
  8. "Werewolves of London" (L. Marinell/Waddy Wachtel/Warren Zevon) – Warren Zevon (3:24)
  9. "My Baby's In Love With Another Guy" (H. Brightman/L. Lucie) – Robert Palmer (2:30)
  10. "The Main Title" (Robbie Robertson) – Robbie Robertson (2:46)


The Color of Money held its world premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City in New York, on 8 October 1986. The film was commercially released in the United States on 17 October 1986.[8] The American release was limited to only select theaters throughout the country, with the film opening in more theaters during the next four weeks of its initial release. After its run, the film grossed $52,293,982 domestically.[9] The film was first released on DVD on 14 March 2000. The film was later released on Blu-ray on 5 June 2012.[10] Neither of the releases contain any special features pertaining to the film itself.[11]


Critical response[edit]

The film received positive critical response upon its release, though some critics thought that the film was an inferior followup to The Hustler. Based on 47 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film received an 89% approval rating from critics, with an average score of 7.17/10. It comments that "it's inferior to the original goes without saying, but Paul Newman and Tom Cruise are a joy to watch, and Martin Scorsese's direction is typically superb".[12] Media review aggregator website Metacritic reported an weighted average score of 77/100 based on 17 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[13] Siskel and Ebert gave the film "two thumbs down", Scorsese's only film to receive such a review from the team.[14]

The film was praised for the major cast. Vincent Canby writing for the New York Times commented on the "three fully realized" main characters, and the journey throughout the film with them is "most satisfying".[15] Canby, however, also commented that it "lacks in narrative shapeliness", before giving the film 9/10.[15] Sheila Benson for the Los Angeles Times called these characters an "electrifying unholy trio", and praising the metaphors between hustling and pool.[16] Miami Herald writer Bill Cosford, however, commented that "whatever Scorsese and Price have to say about these marvelous characters, it is not anything interesting."[17]


Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Awards[18] Best Actor Paul Newman Won
Best Supporting Actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio Nominated
Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium Richard Price Nominated
Best Art Direction Boris Leven and Karen O'Hara Nominated
Cahiers du cinema Best Film Martin Scorsese Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[19] Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama Paul Newman Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards Best Video from a Film Eric Clapton – "It's in the Way That You Use It" Nominated
National Board of Review Awards[20] Top Ten Films The Color of Money Won
Best Actor Paul Newman Won
National Society of Film Critics Awards Best Actor Nominated
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actor Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio Nominated


A line in the film spoken by Tom Cruise's character—"In here? Doom"—inspired the title of the popular 1993 video game, Doom.[21] The 1996 nine-ball challenge match between Efren Reyes and Earl Strickland was named "The Color of Money II" in honor of the film.[22]


  1. ^ "The Color of Money Movie Poster (#1 of 4)". Archived from the original on 20 December 2019. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  2. ^ LoBrutto, Vincent (30 November 2007). Martin Scorsese: A Biography. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers. ISBN 978-0-275-98705-3.
  3. ^ a b Forsberg, Myra (19 October 1986). "'The Color of Money': Three Men and a Sequel". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 30 August 2017.
  4. ^ "Black Narcissus (The Criterion Collection) (2001) DVD commentary". Criterion. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  5. ^ "Commercial information about the Joss 10-N7 model pool cue". Joss Cues. Archived from the original on 6 July 2015.
  6. ^ Levy, Shawn (5 May 2009). Paul Newman: A Life. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 978-0-307-35375-7..
  7. ^ The catalogue number for the original CD release was DMCG 6023. The soundtrack information was taken from the CD booklet.
  8. ^ "Opens Today". The Manila Standard. 25 March 1987. p. 15. Archived from the original on 5 December 2020. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  9. ^ "The Color of Money (1986)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  10. ^ "'The Color of Money' Announced for Blu-ray". Archived from the original on 16 June 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  11. ^ Reuben, Michael (6 June 2012). "The Color of Money Blu-ray Review: We've Been Hustled". Archived from the original on 15 August 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  12. ^ "The Color of Money (1986)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 23 April 2019. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  13. ^ "The Color of Money Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 18 June 2018. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  14. ^ "Ebert and Roeper at the movies". b entertainment.
  15. ^ a b Canby, Vincent (17 October 1986). "SCREEN: PAUL NEWMAN IN 'THE COLOR OF MONEY' (Published 1986)". Archived from the original on 22 September 2020. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  16. ^ Benson, Sheila. "Movie review:Newman chalks one up in "The Color of Money"". Archived from the original on 6 December 2020. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  17. ^ Cosford, Bill (17 October 1986). "The Color of Money Review". Miami Herald. p. 1.
  18. ^ "The 59th Academy Awards (1987) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 16 August 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  19. ^ "Color of Money, The". Golden Globe Award. Archived from the original on 11 July 2019. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  20. ^ "1986 Award Winners". National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. 2016. Archived from the original on 7 December 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  21. ^ "Doomworld -- Interviews". Archived from the original on 5 August 2020. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  22. ^ "'Bata' Reyes, Strickland in $100,000 duel". Manila Standard Today. 27 November 1996. p. 15.

External links[edit]