(Ray Charles – A Bit Of Soul)
So…after rinsing some ‘Joes’ for a few bucks it’s time for Fast Eddie Felson to step up to the plate..The Cathedral known as Ames’s Pool Room. But before the action starts allow me to fill you in with a little bit of information relating to the Film:
Directed by Robert Rossen, (who also co-wrote the screenplay), the story was adapted from a 1959 novel of the same name written by Walter Tevis. I always interperated it is as a tale of character and morality rather than a film about pool and hustling. All the, (major), players in the film are displayed in terms of their moral fibre so it was of interest when I discovered that the director Robert Rossen ‘betrayed’ people a few years after being blacklisted as a result of the scandalous HUAC Hollywood witch hunt of the late 40’s and early 50’s when Cold War, Anti Communist ideology was beginning to be strategically placed into society. Rossen was actually a member of the Communist party during his early years and a Socialist too, (which are far from being the same), but it was the ‘Politics Of Fear’ laced with ‘Game Theory’ rules played out by Government propoganda that was the real issue.
Anyway to have named names and ‘grassed’ Cats up because of not being able to work in the film industry must have been a bitter pill to swallow for an idealist, (Socialism being an ideal after all), who had grown up in New York’s tough lower East Side in the early part of the 20th Century. ‘Grassing’ for many years was considered as low as you could go, even lower than ‘dipping’ which is saying something. Rossen originally claimed the 5th ammendment and refused to co-operate but could’nt hold out and eventually in 1953 named over 50 as Communists. In his own words
“I don’t think, after two years of thinking, that any one individual can indulge himself in the luxury of personal morality or pit it against what I feel today very strongly is the security and safety of this nation.”
So there it is in his own words…’Morality’ one of the human essences we use to justify our actions. John F Kennedy was quoted to have said, (around the time in question),
“A man does what he must regardless of personal consequences and that is the essence of all human morality”
I’m making absolutely no judgement on Robert Rossen but I’m imagining he did on himself and I believe the Hustler was an attempt to make some sense out of questions of morality and character. It’s not a film about winning and losing for me it’s more about the price paid.
Today’s piece of musicology is courtesy of a Cat who needs no introduction…none other than the great Ray Charles Robinson with a 1961 instrumental slice on the Atlantic Label.