You read correctly, Martin Scorsese’s film “The Color of Money” is a sequel. Do you know the first feature film, “L’Arnaqueur”, which features the same character?
The color of money of Martin Scorsese is carried by Tom Cruise and Paul Newman. It takes place in the world of billiards and scam. A billiard champion, ex-inveterate hustler, has become a liquor sales representative. When he meets a promising young billiard player, his old demons come to the surface… But did you know that this is a sequel?
Everything starts from Paul Newmanwho wants to take over the role of Eddie Felson, the pool player he played in The Scammer in 1961 under the direction of Robert Rossen. At the time, the film was adapted from the first novel by Walter Tevis, The Hustler.
It tells how Eddie Felson, a brilliant pool player but also a small-time crook, seeks to beat the legendary Minnesota Fats champion. After a night of fierce fighting, Minnesota finally won. Now broke, Eddie has only one thing in mind, to take his revenge.
Years after The Grifter, Paul Newman therefore wanted to play this character again by adapting The Color of Moneythe literary sequel to The Hustler released in 1984. The actor therefore wrote a letter to Martin Scorsese which he loved raging bull in order to convince him to turn this new adventure of Eddie Felson.
The filmmaker accepts, but with some reservations. Indeed, if The Color of Money is technically a sequel to The Grifter since the main protagonist is the same in both films, in the number ofAmerican Movie of November 1986, Martin Scorsese will deny having shot a “number 2”:
This is not a sequel (…). I read the book, but I didn’t think there was enough to make a film (…). So I said to myself: ‘I give up the book, I just keep the title’. I asked Richard [Price] if he wanted to be involved and he started from scratch.
Novelist Richard Price will therefore scour the pool bars until he has enough experience and understanding of the game and its players to be able to write the film with Scorsese and Newman.
As for Paul Newman, he declared in 1987 in the magazine Films and Filming :
It is a film that is very personal to me. He talks about rekindling a passion, about the competition between youth and old age. Of course, it’s not really a sequel to L’Arnaqueur, which was filmed 25 years ago. Rather, it’s an extension of Eddie’s character seen from a different angle.
25 years have indeed passed since The Grifter, and the character of Paul Newman also lets go during The Color of Money: “It’s been 25 years since I last played [au billard]”which corresponds to the 25 years separating the release of the two films.
The Color of Money was distributed under the Disney banner, through their now defunct Touchstone distribution company. The big-eared studio was the only one to financially validate the project after refusals from Fox and Columbia. And even so, Scorsese and Newman had to pledge a third of their salaries as collateral if the original budget ($14.5 million) was exceeded. It won’t, and they’ll eventually get their full paycheck.
With a release in October 1986 in the United States and the “Tom Cruise effect” (the actor having become a star with the release of Top Gun in May of the same year), the film collected more than 50 million dollars in North America and totaled 1,167,887 admissions when it was released in France in March 1987. As for Paul Newman, he won the Oscar for Best Actor for his reprise of the role of Eddie Felson.
The bonus info
Tom Cruise had to leave the set of the film to shoot “reshoots” of Top Gun of Tony Scott. Indeed, the studio wanted more romance scenes following test screeningswhich were filmed in dim light, because Cruise had meanwhile changed his haircut for The Color of Money!