"Eddie, you’re a born loser."
Description: George C. Scott as Bert Gordon expresses his opinion of pool hustler Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) in the motion picture The Hustler(1961).
"Fast Eddie" Felson is a small-time pool hustler from Oakland, California. He travels with his partner, Charlie Burns (Myron McCormick) as they head cross-country seeking to challenge the legendary player "Minnesota Fats" (Jackie Gleason). Eddie gets his wish, but loses the high-stakes match.
While he recovers from his lose, he meets Sarah Packard (Piper Laurie), an alcoholic college student who walks with a limp whom he pursues but with more lust than love in mind. She eventually succumbs to his charms and they begin a relationship that will sadly end in tragedy.
When Eddie has a falling out with Charlie, calling him an "old man" and telling him to "go lie down and die," he hooks up with a ruthless character named Bert Gordon who calls Eddie a born loser (character wise) but admits he does have a talent for pool.
Bert offers to stake Eddie the money he needs to win the $3000 and challenge "Minnesota Fats" to another match. But, for the privilege of being his manager, Bert will charge 75% of his winnings. Eddie refuses the deal, but after he gets his thumb broken after a not-so-friendly game of pool, he decides 25% of something is better that nothing.
After he heals, Eddie, Bert and Sarah travel to Kentucky where Eddie hopes to win enough money to set up a match with Minnesota Fats. While there, Bert sexually assaults Sarah, who later commits suicide. Before she dies, she writes the words "PERVERTED," TWISTED," and "CRIPPLED." with red lipstick on her bathroom mirror. The same words she had used to describe the world Eddie had become a part of and from which she wanted to take him away.
After Bert drives Sarah to commit suicide, Eddie curses, “You don’t know what winnin’ is, Bert. You’re a loser. ‘Cause you’re dead inside, and you can’t live unless you make everything else dead around you.”
“Boy, you better, you tell your boys they better kill me, Bert. They better go all the way with me, 'cause if they just bust me up, I'll put all those pieces back together again, then so help me... So help me God, Bert, I'm gonna come back here and I'm gonna kill you.” Eddie [to Bert]
Eddie finally earns the money he needs to challenge "MInnesota Fats" and puts $3000 on a single game, winner take all competition, which he wins. However, Eddie refuses to reward Bert for his part in Sarah's death and keeps all the money for himself.
Mindful of what he did, Bert let's Eddie keep the winnings, but warns him to steer clear of big-time pool games, if he knows what's good for him.
Eddie does lay low, but many years later, he resurfaces to play again in the motion picture The Color of Money (1986) where Eddie, now older and wiser, mentors a cocky, up-and-coming pool hustler named Vincent Lauria (Tom Cruise).
Note: The Hustler is based on the novel "The Hustler" (1959) written by American author Walter Tevis [1928-1984].