Professor Firstdraft’s GOODTIME SCRIPTORIUM

Dispatches from the far reaches of the WGF.

Screenplay 101: THE HUSTLER

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Today’s whistle stop on our year-long journey through the WGA’s 101 best screenplays of all time is 1961′s THE HUSTLER, written by Sidney Carroll & Robert Rossen (who also directed). It’s based on the novel by Walter Tevis, and it’s number 96 on the WGA 101 list. The page here is from the August 1960 draft.

Here we see Fast Eddie’s speech to Sarah, a girl he’s met in his travels as an itinerant pool hustler. Sarah tells Eddie she loves him, but he can’t say it back. He sure loves pool, though:

It’s such a great feeling when you’re right and you know you’re right, like all of a sudden you got oil in your arm and the cue stick is part of your arm. It’s got nerves when you’re right. That piece of wood’s got nerves in it. You can feel the tip when it hits the cue… you can feel the roll of the balls… you know they’re going to drop in. Clean smack in the center of the pocket, right in the heart.

Sarah is so moved by Eddie’s speech that she admits her feelings to Eddie. But ironically, the very passion that attracts her is what prevents him from loving her back. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what comes of Eddie’s inability to form the kind of human connection that Sarah longs for. I won’t spoil it for you.

Hustler_1960Aug20_92

Here’s the deal: Throughout 2014, we’re posting pages from every script on the WGA’s list of the 101 Greatest Screenplays, as chosen by Guild membership, because we have every one in our library. Sure, we have other scripts that didn’t make it onto the list, either because they didn’t make the cut or because they were produced after the list was generated (presumably SHARKNADO, which we totally have a copy of, is only in the latter category).