The Color of Money (1986)

R | 119 mins | Drama | 17 October 1986

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HISTORY

According to an article in the 30 Apr 1986 HR, Paul Newman’s lawyer, Irving Axelrad, became interested in the sequel to Walter Tevis’s 1959 novel, The Hustler, after reading two chapters of Tevis’s manuscript in 1983. Newman, who starred as “‘Fast Eddie’ Felson” in the film adaptation of The Hustler (1961, see entry), was initially reluctant to reprise the role. Nevertheless, he encouraged Axelrad to option the novel, titled The Color of Money. Axelrad got Twentieth Century Fox to back the option, which entailed a down payment of $25,000 against a potential $250,000, according to an item in the 4 Nov 1983 Publishers Weekly. Publishing rights sold to Warner Books after the film rights were acquired.
       A 16 Oct 1985 DV item noted that Newman was eager to work with director Martin Scorsese, and first brought him into the project while it was still set up at Fox. A “regime change” at the studio led to the project being dropped, as stated in the 28 Oct 1985 issue of New York. Columbia Pictures picked up the option, but put the film into turnaround. Finally, Walt Disney Productions came on board, and Tom Cruise signed on to co-star, with Martin Scorsese directing, as confirmed in the 21 Oct 1985 HR.
       According to screenwriter Richard Price, quoted in a 19 Oct 1986 NYT article, he and Scorsese went to Malibu, CA, in Feb 1985 for a story meeting with Paul Newman, during which the three “hammered together a plot line.” Walter Tevis and another, unnamed writer had written early drafts, but ... More Less

According to an article in the 30 Apr 1986 HR, Paul Newman’s lawyer, Irving Axelrad, became interested in the sequel to Walter Tevis’s 1959 novel, The Hustler, after reading two chapters of Tevis’s manuscript in 1983. Newman, who starred as “‘Fast Eddie’ Felson” in the film adaptation of The Hustler (1961, see entry), was initially reluctant to reprise the role. Nevertheless, he encouraged Axelrad to option the novel, titled The Color of Money. Axelrad got Twentieth Century Fox to back the option, which entailed a down payment of $25,000 against a potential $250,000, according to an item in the 4 Nov 1983 Publishers Weekly. Publishing rights sold to Warner Books after the film rights were acquired.
       A 16 Oct 1985 DV item noted that Newman was eager to work with director Martin Scorsese, and first brought him into the project while it was still set up at Fox. A “regime change” at the studio led to the project being dropped, as stated in the 28 Oct 1985 issue of New York. Columbia Pictures picked up the option, but put the film into turnaround. Finally, Walt Disney Productions came on board, and Tom Cruise signed on to co-star, with Martin Scorsese directing, as confirmed in the 21 Oct 1985 HR.
       According to screenwriter Richard Price, quoted in a 19 Oct 1986 NYT article, he and Scorsese went to Malibu, CA, in Feb 1985 for a story meeting with Paul Newman, during which the three “hammered together a plot line.” Walter Tevis and another, unnamed writer had written early drafts, but Scorsese wanted to throw out the previous work and craft a new script around Newman’s character. Ultimately, Richard Price’s screenplay retained little more than the title of Tevis’s novel.
       Casting was underway by early Dec 1985, according to the 4 Dec 1985 Var, which announced open call auditions for the role of “Carmen,” to be held at Kamikaze nightclub in New York City. Although actor Jackie Gleason was initially interested in reprising his role in The Hustler, Price was unable to successfully work the character of “Minnesota Fats” into the screenplay.
       A 29 Dec 1985 LAT brief clarified that while Walt Disney Pictures was financing, promoting, and distributing the film, it was not considered a Disney production, but a “Buena Vista release,” since the subject matter was not in keeping with Disney’s usual G-rated fare. Disney’s Touchstone Pictures arm was ultimately credited as production company.
       Filmmakers briefly considered shooting in Toronto, Canada, as noted in the 29 Oct 1985 HR, before choosing Chicago, IL, where principal photography commenced on 21 Jan 1986, according to the 25 Nov 1985 DV. Production notes in AMPAS library files list the following locations: Navy Pier, where the Atlantic City pool tournament was staged, with forty pool tables shipped from Murreys in California; St. Paul’s Billiards, a former vaudeville theater; North Center Bowl; Chicago’s Finest; Chris’s Billiards on Milwaukee Avenue; Fitzgerald’s and The Ginger Man, bars that doubled as pool rooms; O’Brien’s Steakhouse; the German restaurant Zum Deutschen Eck; the Gaslight Club; and Blackstone’s Hotel. One day of filming also took place at the Resorts International Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ.
       Newman and Cruise were coached in pool-playing technique by technical advisor Michael Sigel. Throughout production, the actors continued to practice and kept pool tables in their apartments. A 10 Oct 1986 NYT article noted that the actors made all of the shots seen in the film except one, which was executed by Sigel, the “reigning world straight pool champion” at the time.
       Production concluded the week of 31 Mar 1986, as noted in the 5 Apr 1986 LAHExam, ahead of schedule and $500,000 under the estimated $15-$16 million budget.
       A 23 Oct 1986 LAT article noted the “blizzard of media coverage” around the film, partly due to Paul Newman and Tom Cruise’s popularity. Life magazine released two covers for its Nov 1986 issue, featuring a story about the film and a photograph flipped in two different directions: one with Tom Cruise right-side-up and Paul Newman upside-down, and the other vice versa. A Life executive claimed sales of the different versions would prove “who is the hottest” actor of the two. According to a 28 Dec 1986 LAT item, the magazines featuring Cruise right-side-up outsold the others 55%-45%.
       The Color of Money was originally slated to open on Christmas 1986. However, a 30 Jul 1986 HR item reported that the opening date was moved up two months, due to Disney’s confidence in the film’s commercial viability. A benefit premiere took place on 8 Oct 1986 in New York City, and raised $213,000 for the Actors Studio, as noted in a 10 Oct 1986 NYT item. On 14 Oct 1986, the Los Angeles premiere event raised $135,000 for the Scott Newman Foundation.
       In its opening weekend, the film grossed $6.4 million in 635 theaters. The 2 Jun 1987 DV listed its cumulative domestic box-office gross as $52,205,250.
       Critical reception was largely positive. Paul Newman won an Academy Award for Actor in a Leading Role, and the National Board of Review’s Best Actor Award. The film was also named one of the top ten films of 1986 by the National Board of Review, and received the following Academy Award nominations: Actress in a Supporting Role (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio); Writing (Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium); and Art Direction.
       According to the Dec 1987 issue of Collector, items from The Color of Money, including a pool cue used by Newman, fetched a total of $3,900 at an auction benefitting Newman’s proposed camp for children with life-threatening illnesses.
       The screenplay was Richard Price’s first to be produced.
       End credits include “Special Thanks” to: Marion Billings; Shari and Harold Simonsen, Pool and Billiard Magazine; USA Network, “Commander USA” – James Hendricks; and, The Clip Joint for Film.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Collector
Dec 1987.
---
Daily Variety
16 Oct 1985
p. 1, 14.
Daily Variety
25 Nov 1985.
---
Daily Variety
7 Oct 1986
p. 3, 8.
Daily Variety
16 Oct 1986.
---
Daily Variety
2 Jun 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jan 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Oct 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jul 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 1986
p. 3, 88.
LAHExam
5 Apr 1986.
---
Los Angeles Times
29 Dec 1985
Calendar, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
17 Oct 1986
p. 1, 8.
Los Angeles Times
23 Oct 1986
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
28 Dec 1986
Calendar, p. 20.
New York
28 Oct 1985.
---
New York Times
18 Oct 1985
Section C, p. 6.
New York Times
10 Oct 1986
Section C, p. 12.
New York Times
17 Oct 1986
p. 12.
New York Times
19 Oct 1986
Section A, p. 21.
Publishers Weekly
4 Nov 1983.
---
Variety
10 Jul 1985
p. 7, 22.
Variety
4 Dec 1985.
---
Variety
8 Oct 1986
p. 21, 40.
Variety
15 Oct 1986.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
In alphabetical order:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Touchstones Pictures presents
in association with Silver Screen Partners II
A Martin Scorsese picture
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution Co., Inc.
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Gaffer
Best boy
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Prop master
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Costumer
MUSIC
Score comp by
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Orch
With the special mus participation of
Addl electronic mus arr by
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Sound One Corp.
Foley artist
Foley eng
Sd mixer
Dolby consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Opticals by
Title des by
MAKEUP
Key make-up artist
Key hair stylist
Make-up artist
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Loc mgr - Chicago
Loc mgr - East Coast
Prod accountant
Prod coord
Secy to the prods
Asst to Mr. Newman
Asst to Mr. Cruise
Asst to Mr. Scorsese
Asst to Mr. Scorsese
Asst to Mr. Leven
Unit pub
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Tech adv
Transportation capt
Chicago casting
Chicago casting
Extra casting - Chicago
STAND INS
Coord, Stunts
Stunts
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based upon the novel The Color of Money by Walter Tevis (original publication undetermined).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Strangers In The Night," words by Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder, music by Bert Kaempfert
"I'll Never Smile Again," written by Ruth Lowe
"Anema E Core," Italian lyrics by Tito Manlio, English lyrics by Mann Curtis and Harry Akst, music by Salve d'Esposito
+
SONGS
"Strangers In The Night," words by Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder, music by Bert Kaempfert
"I'll Never Smile Again," written by Ruth Lowe
"Anema E Core," Italian lyrics by Tito Manlio, English lyrics by Mann Curtis and Harry Akst, music by Salve d'Esposito
"The Day The Rains Came," French lyrics by Pierre Delanoe, English lyrics by Carl Sigman, music by Gilbert Becaud
"The Girl From Ipanema," English lyrics by Norman Gimbel, Portugese lyrics by Vinicius De Moraes, music by Antonio Carlos Jobim
"I'll Remember April," written by Don Raye, Gene De Paul and Pat Johnston, performed by Charlie Parker, courtesy of Polygram Special Projects
"Feel Like Going Home," written by Scott Kempner, performed by The Del Lords, courtesy of Enigma Records/EMI Records
"Va Pensiero" from "Nabucco," by Giuseppe Verdi
"Walk On The Wild Side," words by Mack David, music by Elmer Bernstein, performed by Jimmy Smith, courtesy of Polygram Special Projects
"Still A Fool," written and performed by Muddy Waters, courtesy of MCA Records
"My Baby's In Love With Another Guy," written by Lawrence Lucie and Herman Brightman, performed by Robert Palmer
"She's Fine - She's Mine," written and performed by Bo Diddley, courtesy of MCA Records
"It's My Life Baby," written by Don Robey and Ferdinand "Fats" Washington, performed by Eric Clapton and The Big Town Playboys
"Who Owns This Place?," written by Don Henley, Danny Kortchmar and J.D. Souther, performed by Don Henley
"Let Yourself In For It," written and performed by Robert Palmer
"It's In The Way You Use It," words by Eric Clapton and Robbie Robertson, music by Eric Clapton, performed by Eric Clapton
"Two Brothers And A Stranger," written and performed by Mark Knopfler
"Don't Tell Me Nothin'," written by Willie Dixon and Robbie Robertson, performed by Willie Dixon
"Standing On The Edge," written by Jerry Williams, performed by B.B. King. The following by arrangement with Warner Special Products: "One More Night," written and performed by Phil Collins, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp./WEA International
"Still The Night," written by Sammy Llanas, Kurt Neumann and Guy Hoffman, performed by Bodeans, courtesy of Slash Records/Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
"Werewolves Of London," written by Leroy Marivell, Robert Wachtel and Warren Zevon, performed by Warren Zevon, courtesy of Elektra/Asylum Records
"Out Of Left Field," written by Carol Oldham and Dan Penn, performed by Percy Sledge, courtesy of Atlantic Records.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
17 October 1986
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 8 October 1986
Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 October 1986
Production Date:
21 January--late March or early April 1986
Copyright Claimant:
Touchstone Pictures a.a.d.o. the Walt Disney Company
Copyright Date:
17 October 1986
Copyright Number:
PA302757
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Camera and lenses by Arri
Prints
Prints by De Luxe®
Duration(in mins):
119
Length(in feet):
10,754
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28202
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

“Fast Eddie” Felson is a liquor salesman who earns extra money as a “stakehorse,” providing pool players with betting money in exchange for a cut of their winnings. One night, he bets on a player named Julian, who loses several games of nine-ball to Vincent Lauria, a talented but cocky young player. Eddie introduces himself to Vincent’s girl friend, Carmen, who acts as his manager, and invites the young couple to dinner. At a restaurant, Eddie compliments Vincent’s “natural character,” but insists the young man must learn to anticipate other people’s actions if he wants to be excellent at pool. He demonstrates his own knowledge of human nature by betting that a standoffish woman at the bar will go home with him in two minutes. He wagers the dinner check, and Vincent and Carmen observe as Eddie approaches the woman and escorts her out of the restaurant within seconds. Unknown to them, the woman is an acquaintance of Eddie’s, and he simply offers her a ride home. The next day, Carmen visits Eddie at the bar. He tells her he wants to invest in Vincent. To illustrate the differences between her and her boyfriend, Carmen recalls the time she met Vincent at the police station, after her former boyfriend robbed the home of Vincent’s parents. Carmen was the getaway driver, and to this day, she wears a necklace stolen from Vincent’s mother. Vincent naively believes it is simply a coincidence that Carmen owns the same type of necklace. At Child World, the toy store where Vincent works as a sales clerk, Eddie pulls Vincent aside in the stock room and proposes that he and Carmen join him on ... +


“Fast Eddie” Felson is a liquor salesman who earns extra money as a “stakehorse,” providing pool players with betting money in exchange for a cut of their winnings. One night, he bets on a player named Julian, who loses several games of nine-ball to Vincent Lauria, a talented but cocky young player. Eddie introduces himself to Vincent’s girl friend, Carmen, who acts as his manager, and invites the young couple to dinner. At a restaurant, Eddie compliments Vincent’s “natural character,” but insists the young man must learn to anticipate other people’s actions if he wants to be excellent at pool. He demonstrates his own knowledge of human nature by betting that a standoffish woman at the bar will go home with him in two minutes. He wagers the dinner check, and Vincent and Carmen observe as Eddie approaches the woman and escorts her out of the restaurant within seconds. Unknown to them, the woman is an acquaintance of Eddie’s, and he simply offers her a ride home. The next day, Carmen visits Eddie at the bar. He tells her he wants to invest in Vincent. To illustrate the differences between her and her boyfriend, Carmen recalls the time she met Vincent at the police station, after her former boyfriend robbed the home of Vincent’s parents. Carmen was the getaway driver, and to this day, she wears a necklace stolen from Vincent’s mother. Vincent naively believes it is simply a coincidence that Carmen owns the same type of necklace. At Child World, the toy store where Vincent works as a sales clerk, Eddie pulls Vincent aside in the stock room and proposes that he and Carmen join him on a road trip. They will travel to pool halls in other cities, where Vincent can hustle unsuspecting players. In exchange, Eddie will cover costs and take sixty percent of Vincent’s earnings. Eddie gives Vincent a high-end Balabushka pool cue. He confesses that he used to be a pool player, himself, but was forced to quit. Now, he considers himself too old to play. On the road, Vincent is initially uncomfortable with Eddie’s teachings. Eddie wants him to play poorly against his opponents for several games, so that he can lure them into betting more money. Vincent also has a hard time holding back when he would rather play to his best ability, but Eddie wants him to keep a low profile before he makes an appearance at a tournament in Atlantic City, New Jersey. One day, Eddie teaches him the “Two Brothers and a Stranger” hustle. While Vincent challenges a man to a game of pool, Eddie and Carmen wander in. Eddie heckles Vincent and bets that he will lose, inciting other onlookers to bet with him. Although the scheme earns them a lot of money, Vincent chastises Eddie for groping Carmen. Later, at another pool hall, they encounter Grady Seasons, whom Eddie identifies as the highest-earning professional pool player. Eddie instructs Vincent to lose against Seasons, to drive down his odds in Atlantic City. However, Vincent is agitated by Grady’s “trash talking” and beats him in a game. Frustrated with Vincent’s stubbornness, Eddie goes to a pool hall and plays for money. A young man named Amos beats Eddie at his own game by pretending to play poorly, then upping the ante. Vincent and Carmen find Eddie in a drunken stupor at the bar. Eddie wonders aloud how he let himself be conned. He tells Vincent this was his last lesson. Vincent begs Eddie to stay, but he refuses. After parting ways with his protégé, Eddie sees an optometrist for new eyeglasses, and begins playing pool regularly. In three weeks, he arrives in Atlantic City, where he wins a match against Vincent in the tournament. However, when Vincent delivers an envelope filled with cash to Eddie’s hotel room, he realizes that Vincent lost to him on purpose, using the “Two Brothers and a Stranger” scheme to make money off their game. Eddie tries to return the money, but Vincent insists he keep it. Instead, Eddie challenges Vincent to another game of pool, in which they each play their best games. As Eddie breaks, he warns Vincent that he is making a comeback. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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