New to Blu: The Color of Money Review (Dave Voigt)

The Color of Money (1986)

Starring Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

Directed by Martin Scorsese


Just because it is new on Blu-Ray doesn’t necessarily mean it is a new movie.  Celebrating its 25th anniversary and now out on Blu-Ray courtesy of our friends at Touchstone Home Entertainment for the very first time is the classic Martin Scorsese film about the art of the hustle, where a film legend reprises one his iconic roles.  It’s time to learn The Color of Money.

Paul Newman revisiting his role from “The Hustler” as Fast Eddie Felson. In The Color of Money Eddie forms a profitable alliance with the flashy and talented young pool shark Vince (Cruise).  As Eddie takes Vince under his wing and shows him the ropes, Vince’s brash attitude and arrogance begin to cost Eddie more than a just a few matches and all that leads to an ultimate showdown where both men leave it all on the felt.

As a part of an underrated and often forgotten period in the 1980’s, Martin Scorsese’s The Color of Money often gets overlooked in the grand scheme of things in his overall canon of films but it is a damn fine character drama that works from minute one.  Scorsese knows how to light and frame a grungy pool hall, possibly better than anyone and the screenplay by Richard Price adapted from the novel from Walter Tevis crackles with tension, wit, and intelligence.  As we track the journey of Fast Eddie back to the top and his ultimate journey of redemption, we connect to the character and we connect to the man, as every individual person on screen is made real and tangible, thanks to the crisp writing, stellar direction with phenomenal use of music that is common in most Scorsese films, along with strong performances from every major player involved.

In his only Academy Award winning performance, Paul Newman revisited Fast Eddie Felson and made him real, as a man content in his retirement from competition only to get lured out of it by a young prodigy that reminds him of his younger days, the character finally gets to complete his journey by learning how to truly win.  Newman takes us on all the highs and lows that the character goes on towards his redemption in a masterful performance.  Coming off the success of Top Gun, a young Tom Cruise was firmly installed as a leading man, and his performance as hot shot pool hustler Vincent Lauria was one of the first memorable performances in his career and Cruise in working with Scorsese showed the talent and the charm that has propelled him all of these years.  In one of her first leading roles, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio was also nominated for an Oscar as the street savvy Carmen who was hitching herself to Vincent not only to use him but to save herself from a life she knew she didn’t want.  All three performances made this an emotional powerhouse of a film as we were connected and invested in each of their fates as the story ultimately unfolded.

There are sadly no extras on this Blu-Ray release, but it was an excellent digital restoration that gives the film a new level of vibrancy as the sound is immaculate and every dingy dark colour in every pool hall has been restored to its true meaning and this is undoubtedly the closest we will get to seeing it like theatre audiences did.

Ultimately, The Color of Money isn’t a movie that will get mentioned in the same breath as some of the more attractive or more recent Scorsese classics, but it really should be because as you look over the course of his career as a storyteller, the decade of the 80’s is where Scorsese really hit his stride.

The Color of Money is now available on Blu-Ray at video stores all across Toronto as well as at all major retailers for purchase.

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