The Hustler script
The Hustler (1961)
Synopsis: The Hustler is a 1961 American drama film directed by Robert Rossen from Walter Tevis's 1959 novel of the same name, adapted for the screen by Rossen and Sidney Carroll. It tells the story of small-time pool hustler "Fast Eddie" Felson and his desire to break into the "major league" of professional hustling and high-stakes wagering by high-rollers that follows it. He throws his raw talent and ambition up against the best player in the country; seeking to best the legendary pool player "Minnesota Fats." After initially losing to Fats and getting involved with unscrupulous manager Bert Gordon, Eddie returns to try again, but only after paying a terrible personal price.

EXT. SMALL TOWN MAIN STREET - AFTERNOON

An old Packard coup� pulls up to a roadside gas pump. Two men get out

and stretch their legs. The older man, Charlie Burns, a balding,

desiccated man in his mid-forties, shambles toward the bar across the

street. Eddie Felson remains behind to speak to the attendant.

ATTENDANT:

Yes sir?

EDDIE:

I think I got a little grease in this lining

here.

ATTENDANT:

Oh yeah. Well, it will take me about thirty

minutes to check it. You want me to fill her up

too?

EDDIE:

Yeah. You better check the oil too.

ATTENDANT:

Yes sir.

Eddie leaves the car parked at the gas station and heads for the bar.

DISSOLVE TO:

2 INT. ARMSTEAD'S BAR - AFTERNOON

Armstead's is a typical small town pool hall. It has a bar, a short

order counter, a skee-ball machine, and pool tables for small, friendly

games. The few people in Armstead's this day are not playing; they sit

and read the papers. Charlie and Eddie are at the bar, drinking

straight bourbon.

BARTENDER:

Boys just passing through?

EDDIE:

Yep.

BARTENDER:

Pittsburgh?

EDDIE:

Mm hmm.

BARTENDER:

Comin' in or goin' out?

EDDIE:

Goin' in. We got a sales convention. Gotta be

there tomorrow.

BARTENDER:

What do you guys sell?

CHARLIE:

Druggist supplies. Buster here is gonna get an

award.

(Eddie scoffs, as if embarrassed)

No, he sold seventeen thousand bucks' worth of

stuff last month. Fastest boy in the territory.

EDDIE:

Yep. Fastest and the bestest ... Hey, give us

another round, will ya? One for him, one

for yourself.

BARTENDER:

Thanks. Sure is a hot day for driving. Late

afternoon is better. You guys have plenty of

time. Make Pittsburgh in two, maybe three

hours.

EDDIE:

(to Charlie)

Hey, he's right!

(eyes the unused pool table)

Whaddya say, Charlie, huh? Play a little pool?

Wait out the heat?

CHARLIE:

(laughs)

It's gonna cost ya money. It always does.

EDDIE:

Oh, come on, stop stalling. Grab yourself a

cue.

Charlie rises from his barstool.

CHARLIE:

(to the bartender)

Good thing he can afford it.

Eddie is already at the table.

EDDIE:

(to the bartender)

Keep 'em coming, will ya, friend? J. T. S.

Brown.

Charlie joins Eddie.

DISSOLVE TO:

3INT. ARMSTEAD'S BAR - TIME LAPSE

The game is in mid-progress. It's Eddie's shot. He downs his bourbon,

weaves a bit, bends over the table, and awkwardly pokes at the white

cue ball with his stick, missing an easy shot. Several more townspeople

have come in from the street and are following the play. The bartender

refills the glasses as soon as they are emptied.

CHARLIE:

You miss again, you lose again.

OLD MAN:

(at the bar)

What's the kid in hock for so far?

BARTENDER:

About sixty, seventy bucks.

EDDIE:

(racking the balls, to Charlie)

Next game, ten bucks.

OLD MAN:

(to the bartender)

Nice lookin' boy. Clean-cut. Too bad he can't

hold his liquor.

CUT TO:

4INT. ARMSTEAD'S BAR - TIME LAPSE

Two balls lay side by side on the table. Eddie peers at them, trying to

figure his shot, blinking his eyes to focus better. Some of the

onlookers seem skeptical. But Eddie pats the corner pocket confidently,

leans over, and raps out his shot. The ball banks in.

EDDIE:

I made it, boy! I finally made it! C'mon, pay

up. Pay up, sucker.

He pounds his pal Charlie on the shoulder and collapses into a nearby

chair.

CHARLIE:

You ought to take up crap shooting. Talk about

luck!

EDDIE:

Luck! Whaddya mean, luck?

CHARLIE:

You know what I mean. You couldn't make that

shot again in a million years.

EDDIE:

I couldn't, huh? Okay. Go ahead. Set 'em up

the way they were before.

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Sidney Carroll

Sidney Carroll (May 25, 1913 – November 3, 1988) was a film and television screenwriter. Although Carroll wrote most frequently for television, he is perhaps best remembered today for writing the screenplays for The Hustler (1961) for which he was nominated for an Academy Award and for A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966). He has also won Emmys for the documentaries The Louvre (1978) and China and the Forbidden City (1963). In 1957, Carroll won an Edgar Award, in the category Best Episode in a TV Series, for writing "The Fine Art of Murder", an installment of the ABC program Omnibus. He wrote the screenplays for the 1974 Richard Chamberlain television version of The Count of Monte Cristo as well as the original story for the Michael Caine heist movie Gambit. He continued to write for television until 1986. more…

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