The Color of Money is a 1986 American drama film based on Walter Tevis' 1984 novel of the same name, directed by Martin Scorsese & starred Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Helen Shaver and John Turturro.


Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) is a former pool hustler turned successful liquor salesman. One night, he meets Vincent Lauria (Tom Cruise), a young, charismatic pool player and video gamer who plays small-time nine-ball games while working as a sales clerk at a toy store.

Eddie [who still stakes bets for talented players like Julian (John Turturro)] persuades Vincent and girlfriend/manager Carmen (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) to go on the road, where he can teach Vincent how to make much more money through hustling pool.

With Eddie staking their bets, Vincent visits a series of billiard halls where Eddie tries to teach him that "pool excellence is not about excellent pool." Although Carmen is a quick study, Vincent chafes at Eddie's scams, which routinely require him to play well below his abilities.

Eventually, Fast Eddie picks up a cue himself, and does well in several games, but is taken in by a pool shark named Amos (Forest Whitaker). Humiliated, Eddie leaves Vincent and Carmen with enough money to make it to the championships in Atlantic City.

Wearing new prescription eyeglasses, Eddie begins working out and practicing. He enters the 9-ball tournament in Atlantic City and, after several victories, finds himself facing off against a more world-wise Vincent. He beats Vincent, but later, when he is celebrating with girlfriend Janelle (Helen Shaver), Vincent arrives and informs Eddie that he intentionally lost in order to collect on a bet. He gives Eddie $8,000 as his "cut." During his semi-final match against Kennedy, Eddie sees his reflection on the cue ball, disgruntled he chooses to forfeit the game.

Out-hustled again, Eddie returns the money, saying that he wants to beat Vincent legitimately. The two set up a private match, where Eddie informs Vincent that if he doesn't beat him now, he will in the future because "I'm back!"



  • Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson
  • Tom Cruise as Vincent Lauria
  • Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Carmen
  • Helen Shaver as Janelle
  • John Turturro as Julian
  • Bill Cobbs as Orvis
  • Forest Whitaker as Amos


"The Color of Money" was filmed from January 20, 1986 to April of 1986. It was filmed in Chicago, Illinois and Highland Park, Illinois.

The boardwalk and casino exteriors were filmed in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Martin Scorsese has cited the influence of techniques and lighting in the 1947 Powell-Pressburger classic "Black Narcissus" in making the film.

In particular, he stated that the extreme close ups of Tom Cruise around the pool table were inspired by those of the nuns in that film.

Paul Newman said that the best advice he was given by Scorsese was to "try not to be funny". Cruise performed most of his own shots.

An exception was a jump shot over two balls to sink another. Scorsese believed Tom Cruise could learn the shot, but that it would take too long, so the shot was performed for him by Mike Sigel. Cruise mentioned that in order to prepare for the role, he bought a pool table for his apartment and practiced for hours on end.

Standing in for the extremely valuable "Balabushka" cue in the movie was actually a Joss J-18 (which later became the Joss 10-N7) which was made to resemble a classic Balabushka.

Mike Sigel was technical director and he and Ewa Mataya Laurance served as technical consultants and shot-performers on the film.

Absent from the film is the character Minnesota Fats (who was played by Jackie Gleason in The Hustler).

Newman later said that he had wanted the character to appear, but that none of the attempts to include him fit well into the story that was being written.

According to Scorsese, Gleason apparently agreed with Newman's opinion that Minnesota Fats was not essential to the film's story. Scorsese said that Gleason was presented a draft of the script that had Fats worked into the narrative, but that upon reading it, Gleason declined to reprise the role because he felt that the character seemed to have been added as "an afterthought".



On October 8, 1986, "The Color of Money" had its world premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City, New York. It was commercially released on October 17, 1986 in the United States.

Box OfficeEdit

"The Color of Money" opened at #2 at the box office, grossing $6,357,877 during its opening weekend.

Domestically, the film grossed $52,293,982.

Critical ReceptionEdit

"The Color of Money" received positive critical reception, although many critics noted that it was an inferior follow-up to the film "The Hustler."

On Rotten Tomatoes, it was given a 90% approval rating based on 39 reviews with an average score of 7.3\10.

Siskel and Ebert gave the film "two thumbs down" which was Martin Scorsese's only film to receive a negative review from them.


1987 Academy Awards

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Paul Newman (won)
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (nominated)
  • Best Art Direction-Set Direction: Boris Leven and Karen O'Hara (nominated)
  • Best Writing (Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium): Richard Price (nominated)

1987 Golden Globes

  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Drama: Paul Newman (nominated)
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Drama: Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (nominated)

1986 National Board of Review, USA

  • Best Actor: Paul Newman (won)
  • Top Ten Films (nominated)

1987 National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA

  • Best Actor: Paul Newman (third place)

1986 New York Film Critics Circle Awards

  • Best Actor: Paul Newman (second place)
  • Best Supporting Actress: Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (second place)

Theatrical TrailerEdit

The Color Of Money Trailer

The Color Of Money Trailer