What’s surprising to modern audiences is how adult “The Hustler” feels more than a half-century after it first hit theaters.
I’m not talking in terms of violence, sex or language. Released in 1961, “The Hustler” was released under the watchful eye of the Motion Picture Production Code, so any mature material had to be careful hidden. But the movie feels adult in a way that few movies from that era can match. The characters seem like grown-ups, their lives seem lived-in and their problems aren’t something that will be solved when the end credits roll.
Slap Shot (1977), one of the greatest sports movies of all time, is under review for today’s episode. We tried to capture the spirit of the thing. Paul Newman, who plays a past-his-prime player-coach for the fictional Charlestown Chiefs, says ‘Reg’ Dunlop was his favorite role. That’s saying something for an actor whose film credits include Cool Hand Luke (1967), The Hustler (1961), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), to name a few. Thirty-eight years after its release and Slap Shot lives on as the greatest hockey movie ever made; with its lines still recited by players who weren’t born when the film debuted.