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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Martin Scorsese delivers an electrifying—and very belated—sequel

Illustration for article titled Martin Scorsese delivers an electrifying—and very belated—sequel

Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new movie coming out that week. This week: In honor of The Wolf Of Wall Street, we look back on a few of Scorsese’s most underrated movies.


The Color Of Money (1986)

Though it initially suffered unflattering comparisons to The Hustler, its 1961 predecessor, The Color Of Money remains a fantastic Martin Scorsese effort—a work of swaggering excitement and romance. Based on a novel by Walter Tevis, Scorsese’s 1986 sequel finds Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) making money selling Wild Turkey to his bar-owner girlfriend Janelle (Helen Shaver)—until he spies hotshot pool player Vincent (Tom Cruise) hustling his own protégé Julian (John Turturro), and the promise of a big payday out on the road proves too tempting to pass up. Teaming with Vincent, as well as the young man’s tough-as-nails girlfriend and manager Carmen (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), Eddie reverts back to his former (a.k.a. true) scam-artist self. He teaches the young stud how to reign in his hotheaded pride; by taking a few dives, Vincent can create odds against his favor in the Atlantic City tournament the three work toward.

While The Color Of Money trades in mentor-disciple and passing-of-the-guard dynamics, its true interest focuses less on Vincent or Carmen than it does on Eddie, who soon realizes that being a behind-the-scenes guru is an unacceptable role. In an Oscar-winning performance, Newman embodies his pool shark with a magnetic combination of laid-back swagger, quiet confidence, and suppressed, silent fury. In the process he outshines a charismatically cocky Cruise and an outwardly brusque, subtly vulnerable Mastrantonio. Working with regular collaborators Thelma Schoonmaker (editor) and Michael Ballhaus (cinematography), Scorsese directs with the grace and poise of a master in complete control of his material. As such, he’s a filmmaker in perfect harmony with his story’s protagonist, as well as his peerlessly cool lead, who delivers a simultaneously melancholy and defiant portrait of a man raging against the dying of the light.

Availability: The Color Of Money is available on Blu-ray and DVD (which can obtained through Netflix) and to rent or purchase through the major digital services.