This love rant about Paul is prompted by my recent viewing of The Hustler and The Color of Money, two movies starring the man himself as a pool shark (as in the game). Although they were made 25 years apart, The Color of Monday was a sequel to the Hustler.
In The Hustler, Paul is a young and talented pool player who has to learn the art of taking peoples' money. He's a pool addict, with a little too much confidence and not enough control to know when to call it quits. He wants to be the best, even if it means losing all he has. He meets another addict, Sarah, although she's more interested in her drink of choice than pool. The movie, made in 1961, is a little slow, but the characters are interesting to see develop. By the end of the film, Newman discovers what is truly important to him and learns a valuable lesson at a high cost.
The Color of Money, on the other hand, finds Paul as a pool shark turned liqueur salesman who discovers a unique talent in Tom Cruise. Cruise is a small time pool shark, but Paul takes him under his wing and shows him all he knows. Because both men are smart and talented, conflict arises as they argue over how to do things what constitutes a good con. Cruise strongly desires Newman's help, but at the same time, believes he knows everything and isn't very willing to accept any criticisms. By the end of the film, we have the two bests battling it out in Atlantic City at a major pool contest. You'll have to find out who, if either, wins by watching the film for yourself.
Although they are connected, each film can stand alone, but I really liked watching them sequentially. There are a few references in Color of Money about the story in The Hustler, but you wouldn't be lost if you watch them separately. If I had to choose, I think I like The Hustler more than the Color of Money, but I usually prefer films from the 50's and 60's over the 80's.