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March 15, 2011

The Hustler: What they ate in this movie


I keep thinking it would be fun to blog about what people eat in movies, especially when a movie isn't about food and eating. 

Eating scenes are notoriously tricky to film and, for reasons of continuity, to edit. Someone is always spotting the slice of pie that dwindles and grows back whole. So the absence of eating scenes in a movie doesn't necessarily mean anything -- it does, though, i think, in the case below.

I welcome your contributions. The next time you see a movie, try documenting what the characters ate, in and out of restaurants -- was it realistic? Did they ate like real-life human beings?

What they ate in The Hustler:


Not one person eats one thing.

And no one, not even Minnesota Fats, wonders what his next meal will be. 

In the picnic scene, one of the few times anyone in the movie gets some fresh air, Piper Laurie’s character, Sarah, is seen holding a half a sandwich, but you never see her eating it.

When Sarah and “Fast” Eddie go to dinner at Parisien, a "fancy" restaurant that seems to be in their neighborhood, we see them having drinks before and after dinner, but we never see their meal — presumably they ate something.

And perhaps Sarah consumed a soft-boiled egg at breakfast in her apartment — we see an empty egg cup. Eddie asks her if she ever cooks (she's returned from the grocery store with mostly canned food): she says she occasionally fries an egg.

Otherwise, it’s liquor, coffee and beer for everyone, almost non-stop. And the absence of nourishment feels deliberate, as though Robert Rossen means for us to know that these characters are malnourished, soul- and otherwise. When, shortly after their meeting, in a bus-station cafe, Eddie kisses Sarah outside of her apartment, she stops him. “You’re too HUNGRY!”

It took me a solid two weeks to watch The Hustler. People whose movie taste I hold in high regard hold this movie in high regard; I thought it was boringly self-conscious about not being a Hollywood movie. It made me long for a Hollywood movie.

Posted by Richard Gorelick at 8:00 AM | | Comments (12)


One of the things I love about Oceans Eleven (the remake) is Brad Pitt and the fact that he is CONSTANTLY eating in that movie. I can't remember what he is eating, just that he always seems to be eating something.

Cool Hand Luke - 50 eggs

Taxi Driver - Jodie Foster chows down on a sandwich made of white bread, jelly and granulated white sugar.

The Hustler is so beautifully shot and directed, such a visual gem that I can understand why they wouldn't want to tempt the gods of continuity with chow. If you are not clear what a cinematographer does, watch this movie and be astounded by the beautiful framing and movement of the camera, all in glorious B&W.

it is beautiful. poetic, jazzy.

The cigarettes alone in this movie probably required at least one full time continuity tracker.

When I think of eating in a movie I think of John Houston in Chinatown and the fish served with the head on served with little boiled potatoes and some sort of whipped tartar sauce. Looked wonderful. And of course Nicholson's comment about not minding fish served with head attached he just hoped they didn't serve the chicken the same way.

Time for me to watch this movie again

I always think of the scene in Pretty Woman - Julia Roberts & the pancake. The edit was horrendous and I'm not sure why it wasn't caught. She starts out with a croissant and with one very quick cutaway it becomes half a pancake!

hilarious. makes me want to rent it just for that

Bobby: I'd like an omelet, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce. And a cup of coffee.
Waitress: A #2, chicken salad sand. Hold the butter, the lettuce, the mayonnaise, and a cup of coffee. Anything else?
Bobby: Yeah, now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven't broken any rules.
Waitress: You want me to hold the chicken, huh?
Bobby: I want you to hold it between your knees.

a classic; I always felt bad for the waitress

They're constantly eating in "The Godfather" but the most egregious continuity error involving food scenes is probably Robert Duval's water glass being filled twice when he's eating at Jack Woltz' house.

Five Easy Pieces - OK, I'll make it as easy for you as I can. I'd like an omelette, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce. And a cup of coffee.

Waitress: A number two, chicken sal san, hold the butter, the lettuce and the mayonnaise. And a cup of coffee. Anything else?

Yeah. Now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven't broken any rules.

Waitress (spitefully): You want me to hold the chicken, huh?

I want you to hold it between your knees.

My apologies for the multiple posts (browser acting up), and for the duplicate post.

Another great food movie has to be Pulp Fiction.

Jimmy Cagney almost eating half a grapefruit in "Public Enemy".

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About this blog

You are reading the archives. For updated blog posts about the Maryland food scene, see Richard Gorelick's new Baltimore Diner blog.
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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