1961 filmgoers complained that the post-production, up-converted 2D lost all the colour.


1961 filmgoers complained that the post-production, up-converted 2D lost all the colour.

THE HUSTLER

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

EXT. 1961 CITY STREET

A CAR slowly drives along, then PARKS. PAUL NEWMAN and his OLDER PARTNER get out and cross the street. This is DULL, but it's how movies tended to start in 1961 so the 2011 AUDIENCE gives it a pass.

CUT TO:

INT. DINER

PAUL NEWMAN

Lum tee tum. Boy am I hungry. And drunk. So hungry and drunk, in fact, that there's NO WAY I could ever make a difficult pool shot. Not that it's relevant since we're in a diner and OMG IS THAT A POOL TABLE?!?!???

OLDER PARTNER

It sure is! And it sure would be EASY MONEY for anyone in here to bet that you can't make that difficult pool shot! I wonder if there's ANYONE in here clever enough to take advantage of that?

EVERYONE IN THE DINER bets TONS OF MONEY that PAUL NEWMAN will miss. But he DOESN'T! He and the OLD PARTNER stroll off with the money and somehow NOBODY IN THE DINER realizes they have been CONNED LIKE ASSHOLES.

2011 AUDIENCE

That was fun, though. I can't wait to watch this whole movie full of fun cons and snazzy pool and trick shots and Jackie Gleason and stuff.

1961 AUDIENCE

Huh, so that's what future generations will think this movie's all about. Dumbasses.

CUT TO:

INT. BIG-TIME POOL HALL

PAUL NEWMAN

I feel invincible! I'm gonna beat Minnesota Fats tonight, y'hear? He'll be helpless against my awesome talent and Andy Sandberg grin, whoever HE is!

JACKIE GLEASON walks in.

JACKIE GLEASON

Okay, Paul, let's play pool.

2011 AUDIENCE

What, already?!? We thought the whole movie built up to this.

PAUL and JACKIE trade impressive shots, some of which are framed so you can see they are ACTUALLY DOING THEM.

2011 AUDIENCE

(baffled)

Whuh? How are they doing CGI trick shots, decades before CGI was invented? D-does not c-compute...

PAUL NEWMAN

Let's up the ante here. $1,000 a game!

2011 AUDIENCE

Okay... this must be the part where Jackie utterly destroys Paul, so that he'll train for the rest of the movie to ultimately win.

PAUL NEWMAN proceeds to CRUSH JACKIE GLEASON at pool.

2011 AUDIENCE

(brains melting)

GGAAAAAAHHHH WHAAAT IS HAPPENNNINGGGGG

PAUL NEWMAN

Oh fuck, the future audience is losing their mind. I'd better lose after all.

He gets IMPOSSIBLY DRUNK and LOSES HORRIBLY.

JACKIE GLEASON

I pronounce you defeated, Paul Newman. Well, see you at the end of the movie.

(leaves)

2011 AUDIENCE

What does he mean? Surely we'll see that Oscar-nominated performance again, sooner than the absolute very last scene, right?

THE 1961 ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES

(fidgeting nervously)

Er...

2011 AUDIENCE

RIGHT?!

THE 1961 ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES

Hey, we would have nominated George C. Scott but he told us to fuck off. You're lucky we didn't wind up nominating Guy Watching Pool #3.

CUT TO:

INT. TRAIN STATION DINER

PIPER LAURIE

Sigh, I am so drunk and sad.

PAUL NEWMAN

Whaddya know, I'm drunk and sad too. Let's go fuck.

PIPER LAURIE

No.

(pause)

Okay.

CUT TO:

INT. PIPER LAURIE'S DEPRESSING APARTMENT

PAUL NEWMAN

Ah, settling into a life of twisted, broken depravity. Say, whaddya doing over there?

PIPER LAURIE

(morosely)

I've written a book about our life. It's called "Twisted, Broken Depravity".

PAUL NEWMAN

(flying into rage)

WHAT'S THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN, HUH?!?!?!! BLARRRRRGH

PIPER LAURIE

I'M SOOOO SAAAAAAAD

2011 AUDIENCE

Dear God, the movie's fallen into a swamp pit of 1930s melodrama. Wake us when this part's over.

A KNOCK on the door turns out to be the OLD PARTNER.

PAUL NEWMAN

Hi, Old Partner. Sorry I ran off on you.

OLD PARTNER

C'mon, Paul, why'd you have to go be a loser? You don't have to be a loser, you could be a winner, instead of choosing to be a loser. You know who does that? Losers.

PAUL NEWMAN

(enraged)

GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT!!!

He CHASES OFF the OLD PARTNER.

PIPER LAURIE

Paul, we're losing the audience with our indulgent self-pity. Maybe you should go play some more pool.

PAUL NEWMAN

Awright, already!

(flashes Paul Newman Grin, earns immediate forgiveness of audience)

CUT TO:

INT. RANDOM RESTAURANT WITH POOL HALL ATTACHED, BECAUSE APPARENTLY EVERYWHERE ON EARTH HAS ITS OWN POOL HALL

PAUL NEWMAN plays some pool.

GEORGE C. SCOTT

Hey, kid. I saw you play Minnesota Fats, start winning, and then lose. That was because you're a loser. But let me manage you, and you won't be a loser, you'll be a winner. You know what kind of person wouldn't accept this offer?

PAUL NEWMAN

A loser?

GEORGE C. SCOTT

Give the man a cigar.

PAUL NEWMAN

Yeah, well, I don't wanna play for you!

GEORGE C. SCOTT

Fine, but I'll warn you, if you keep this up you might find yourself hustling the wrong people someday. And just to make sure the audience doesn't forget that I warned you about it, this will happen to you five seconds from now.

CUT TO:

INT. POOL HALL FULL OF THE WRONG PEOPLE TO HUSTLE AT POOL

PAUL NEWMAN

Ha! I have hustled you. Now pay up!

They take PAUL NEWMAN behind a GLASS PARTITION and do SOMETHING BAD to him!

PAUL NEWMAN

ARRRRRRGH!

2011 AUDIENCE

Damn this 1961-era implied violence! I can't tell if they're breaking his limbs, ass-raping him, or forcing him to watch the poorly-reviewed 1954 film "The Silver Chalice", which he had a part in!

1961 AUDIENCE

Don't pander to us. We know you just looked that up on IMDB, whatever that is. Er, will be.

CUT TO:

INT. PIPER LAURIE'S DEPRESSING APARTMENT WHICH LIKELY HAS A TIN ROOF OF EXCEEDING HEAT, ON WHICH MAY WELL BE FOUND A CAT OF SOME DESCRIPTION

PAUL NEWMAN

They broke my thumbs!

2011 AUDIENCE

Ah, well that clears that up.

PIPER LAURIE

(morosely)

Tell you what, I'll show you the new opera I wrote. I can't decide whether to call it "Depraved, Twisted Brokenness" or "Broken, Depraved Twistedness". It starts like this:

(singing)

OHHHH DEEEEEPRAAAAAAVITYYYY.....

PAUL NEWMAN

(interrupting)

Piper, do you think I'm... a LOSER?

PIPER LAURIE

Paul, losers say they're winners when they're really losers. Winners say they're losers when they're losing, but later they'll win, even if by winning they're really losing. But don't worry about that now. Let's instead play a round of Win, Lose, or That Thing Which Isn't Winning Or Losing, As If Such An Option Were Even Possible, Which It Clearly Isn't.

CUT TO:

INT. POOL HALL TUCKED IN BEHIND A FEDERAL COURTHOUSE

PAUL NEWMAN

Okay, George C. Scott, now that my thumbs have healed, I will play pool for you.

GEORGE C. SCOTT

Excellent! Hey, did I mention that whole "break your thumbs" thing was my idea and those guys work for me?

PAUL NEWMAN

No. And now that you have, it will not affect my decision in any way.

GEORGE C. SCOTT

Excellent!

CUT TO:

INT. HORSE RACING STADIUM

PAUL, GEORGE, and PIPER arrive at the STADIUM.

WILLIAM DUELL

Hey, Paul, it's me, Johnny the shoeshine informant from the 1982 series "Police Squad!" Let me beguile you with tales of the future.

(leads PAUL NEWMAN offscreen)

GEORGE C. SCOTT

Now that it's just you and me, Piper, let me spell it out for you how evil I am, although I will do so in a 1960s way that will be barely understood 50 years from now.

PIPER LAURIE

Ah-ha, I knew it! You're evil! Well, I'll show you, George. You just wait until Paul gets back, and I'll never mention this conversation at all!

PAUL NEWMAN

(returning)

Hey, guys. If I seem distracted, it's because I just learned that twelve years from now I'll make a movie that will utterly dwarf whatever reputation this one gets, kind of like how Jupiter dwarfs one half of an atom of this pebble; so you'll forgive me if I stop trying for a few scenes. What'd I miss?

PIPER LAURIE

Hm? Oh, nothing.

GEORGE C. SCOTT

Paul, I've brought you here to play pool against this over-the-top Southern stereotype.

MURRAY HAMILTON

(through exaggerated thin grin of Southern sinisterness)

That'd be me.

PAUL NEWMAN

Fine! Let's do this!

GEORGE C. SCOTT

(whispering to Piper)

Did I mention I'm evil?

PIPER LAURIE

(freaking out)

AAAUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGHHHH!!!

(smashes things)

PAUL NEWMAN

Piper, what is it?

PIPER LAURIE

...nothing.

CUT TO:

INT. MURRAY HAMILTON'S HOUSE OUTSIDE OF WHICH A MAN WHOSE BUSINESS IS SALES MAY WELL HAVE DIED

MURRAY HAMILTON

Oh, surprise, it's billiards, not pool.

GEORGE C. SCOTT

Hmm, I dunno about this.

PAUL NEWMAN

Don't worry, George, I can beat him! I know I can beat him! You can't walk out on me now! I can beat him!

GEORGE C. SCOTT

Okay.

MURRAY WIPES THE FLOOR with PAUL.

GEORGE C. SCOTT

Hmm, now I really dunno about this.

PAUL NEWMAN

Don't worry, George, I can still beat him! I know I can still beat him! You can't walk out on me now! I can still beat him!

GEORGE C. SCOTT

Okay.

Although NOTHING HAS CHANGED, PAUL WIPES THE FLOOR with MURRAY.

PAUL NEWMAN

Phew, that was tiring. To celebrate I'm going to go on a long walk; just long enough so that any major plot points that need to happen can resolve themselves without my interference.

(leaves)

CUT TO:

INT. HOTEL

PIPER LAURIE

Why, George! Where's Paul?

GEORGE C. SCOTT

He won a bunch of money at billiards, so he went for a walk.

(pause; then, pointing at self)

Evil!

PIPER LAURIE

ALRIGHT FINE I'LL JUST SLEEP WITH YOU AND THEN KILL MYSELF!!!!

PAUL NEWMAN

(bursting in)

Hey, what's going on?!?

PIPER LAURIE

(dead on floor, in lingerie, covered in blood)

...nothing.

CUT TO:

INT. ORIGINAL BIG-TIME POOL HALL

JACKIE GLEASON

(waking up)

Hrmmph? Is it my second scene yet?

PAUL NEWMAN

That's right, Jackie. I'm back to play you again, only now I'm not a loser. I'm a winner who's lost everything by winning. Or something like that.

They PLAY POOL and do more FUN TRICK SHOTS, only now it is TRAGIC and DEPRESSING.

JACKIE GLEASON

I accept defeat, this time.

(gets Oscar nomination)

GEORGE C. SCOTT

So, Paul, you're finally a winner.

PAUL NEWMAN

Yeah, I'm not a loser any more. Piper Laurie sure lost, though, thanks to us. But maybe she was the real winner. You think you're the winner, George, but as a winner, let this winner tell you who's a winner, and it's not you. You're the loser. You're the loser who wins at winning over losers until the losers start winning and then you make them winners at losing so you don't have to face that you're the real loser.

PAUL walks off TRAGICALLY into a life of REGRET, SEALING OFF the NARRATIVE with a final dose of IRONY.

2011 AUDIENCE

...how in fuck did Scorsese justify doing a sequel to this movie?

1961 AUDIENCE

Sequel?!?? What do you mean, sequel... wait... what did you future people do... you DID IT, didn't you?!?!?? YOU BLEW IT UP INTO A SEQUEL!!!

(pounding on beach)

YOU MANIACS!!!! OH, GOD-DAMN YOU.... GOD-DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!!!!

2011 AUDIENCE

What are you doing? "Planet of the Apes" doesn't happen until 1968.

1961 AUDIENCE

Yeah, well, SOME decades don't have IMDB, assholes.

END


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