Billiards and Bowling Movies

* Recommended Titles

Pool Sharks (1915)… W.C. Fields. A silent one-reeler showing Fields performing his famous vaudeville pool game routine. This is Fields' first movie.

Strikes and Spares (1934)… This short features the trick shots of professional bowler Andy Varipapa. Remade in 1948 as Bowling Tricks.

Super Cue Men (1937)… Willie Mosconi, Jimmy Caras, Corinne Calvet, Joi Lansing. Movie short about kids and billiards.

World of Sport: Bowling Kings (1947)… Sportscaster Bill Stern interviews professional bowlers Ned Day and Joe "The Fabulous" Felcaro. The two men then display their talents on the lanes.

Headpin Hints (1955)… Professional bowlers Lee Jouglard and Sylvia Wene give instruction to young bowlers, then show their skill at making difficult shots.

* The Hustler (1961)… Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott, Myron McCormick, Murray Hamilton, Michael Constantine, Jake LaMotta, Vincent Gardenia. Fast Eddie Felson challenges the legendary Minnesota Fats to a money match. An atmospheric gem for which the cinematographer and set director won Oscars. Outstanding performances all around. From the Walter S. Tevis novel. [Billiards champion Willie Mosconi coached Newman and set up a few shots for the movie. He said that Gleason needed no coaching. He also appears briefly as Willie.]

The Player (1971)… Jerry Como, Rae Phillips, Carey Wilmot, Jack Colavita, Rudolf Wanderone Jr. (Minnesota Fats). Colavita was a professional pool player. From Extensive searches for a print of THE PLAYER (1971) have been unsuccessful. Sources have claimed that it was unreleased and/or uncompleted, despite it having a paper trail of promotional material. Either way, this film is currently presumed lost.

Dreamer (1979)… Tim Matheson, Susan Blakely, Jack Warden, Richard B. Shull, Barbara Stuart. A down-on-his-luck bowler becomes PBA certified with the help of his coach and friends despite those against him. He then competes in the championship match against one of his childhood heroes.

* Baltimore Bullet (1980)… James Coburn, Omar Sharif, Bruce Boxleitner, Ronee Blakely, Jack O'Halloran, Calvin Lockhart. A couple of big-time pool hustlers square off against their slick rival. Not bad. Willie Mosconi plays a sportscaster. Pool players Lou Butera, Steve Mizerak and Jimmy Mataya appear as themselves.

* Color of Money (1986)… Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Helen Shaver, Tom Turturro, Bill Cobbs, Robert Agins, Forest Whitaker. Newman won an academy award in this sequel to The Hustler that finds Eddie Felson grooming his young replacement. Jimmy Mataya plays Julian's friend in the green room. Steve Mizerak plays Dale, Eddie's first opponent. Iggy Pop is the skinny player on the road. Eric Clapton and Robbie Robertson did the music.

The Hustler of Money (1988)… John Mahoney, Ben Stiller, Danny Aiello, Julie Hagerty, Jerry Stiller. TV-movie trying to parody "The Color Of Money", only this time Fast Eddie is a bowler. He has to teach Wince (Ben Stiller) the rules of bowling and life.

Kiss Shot (1989)… Whoopi Goldberg, Dorian Harewood, Dennis Franz, Tasha Scott, David Marciano, Teddy Wilson. TV-movie about pool hustling mom looking to help pay the rent. She then falls in love with one of her opponents.

Spare Me (1992)… Lawton Paseka. Professional bowler Theo Skinner is banned after he conks an opponent on the head. He than starts looking for his father, bowling legend Buzz Fizzelli, to help him get back into the game.

Mr. Wonderful (1993)… Matt Dillon, Annabella Sciorra, Mary-Louise Parker, William Hurt, Vincent D'Onofrio, David Barry Gray, Dan Hedaya, Bruce Kirby, Luis Guzmαn, Jessica Harper. Electrician buys an old bowling alley with some of his friends but, because of alimony payments to his ex-wife, the bank refuses to loan him the down payment. He spends the rest of the movie trying to marry her off.

Pin Gods (1996)… Anton Pavelchak, Tony Rosamilia, Bob Vespi, Walter Ray Williams.  A documentary of three aspiring professional bowlers trying to make a living on the tour. Williams has developed into one of the greatest bowler of all time.

Lemon Tree Billiards House (1996)… Ray Bumatai. In this humorous story set in Hawaii, a college student's encounter with an aging hit man, who in the course of a few games of billiards learn a lot about trust and risk-taking.

Striker Bob (1997)… Tom De Wispelaere, Stijn Van Opstael, Ben Segers, Stefan Perceval, Koen van Impe. Dutch made short about two bowler brother who confess to drowning an opponent prior to an important match. The victim comes back to life as a man-eating zombie.

* The Big Lebowski (1998)… Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, David Huddleston. On off-the-wall comedy in which Bridges plays the unemployed "Dude" Lebowsky who just wants to bowl and get high. But he is mistaken for another Lebowsky that gets him and his best buddy (Goodman) involved in a bizarre kidnapping plot. Goodman is excellent as the ex Vietnam vet with a short fuse.

Kingpin (1998)… Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, Vanessa Angel, Bill Murray, Chris Elliott, William Jordan, Richard Tyson, Rob Moran, Lin Shaye, Zen Gesner, Prudence Wright Holmes. Bowling champ Harrelson loses use of his hand and recruits an Amish ringer to compete against his rival. Some funny bits but flick throws more splits than strikes. Too bad because the cast is impressive.

Destiny Stalled (2000)… Robert Glen Keith, Brian Sites, LeeAnn Camp. From Mitchell is out of work. He's just gotten a letter from his long lost father in Las Vegas, and he needs $600 to get there. He enrolls in a medical study, and while there, befriends Jimmy, a young boy who is a patient at the hospital (and a bit of a pool shark). When the study ends, Mitchell discovers that Jimmy's father is dead, contrary to what Jimmy has told him, and that Jimmy is sicker than he let on.

Poolhall Junkies (2002)… Chazz Palminteri, Rick Schroder, Rod Steiger, Michael Rosenbaum, Gregory 'Mars' Martin, Alison Eastwood, Christopher Walken, Glenn Plummer. Young player is mentored by older hustler.

Score! (2002)… A cute Asian girl gives up boys for bowling and is on a quest for a 300-game. Her friends wants her to start dating again and she meets Jeremy but also his stalking ex-girlfriend. Sara Hyoun wrote produced directed and starred.

Pakners (2003)… Fernando Poe Jr., Efren Reyes. World Billiards Champ Efren “Bata” Reyes demonstrates his nine-ball wizardry in a high-stakes match against international pool players financed by an underworld kingpin. Philippine comedy.

* A League of Ordinary Gentlemen (2004)… Documentary tracing the history of the professional bowling tour, including archival footage from the 1950s and '60 and the modernizing the PBA. The film focuses on four pros: Bad boy Pete Weber, the son of star bowler Dick Weber, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Chris Barnes and Wayne Webb.

Gutterballs (2008)… Alastair Gamble, Mihola Terzic, Nathan Witte. From A brutally sadistic rape leads to a series of bizarre gory murders during a midnight disco bowl-a-rama at a popular bowling alley.

7-10 Split (2007)… A struggling actor goes on the PBA tour and becomes rich and famous but loses his girlfriend and best friend. Ross Patterson, Tara Reid, Clayne Crawford.  Renamed "Strike!"

Break (2020)… Sam Gittins, Jamie Foreman, Adam Deacon, Terri Dwyer, David Yip and Rutger Hauer. A young player gets involved with a gangster and a veteran Chinese champion to compete in the big Chinese snooker tournament.


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