Hustle (1975)

Genres - Crime, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Police Detective Film, Post-Noir (Modern Noir)  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Craig Butler

Never one to practice restraint, director Robert Aldrich paints a sometimes overwhelmingly disturbing portrait of America in Hustle. Aldrich's work is undeniably powerful and his ability to vividly paint a world of unstoppable moral corrosion is impossible to dismiss. At the same time, the director's obsessiveness is uncomfortable and, at times, he simply tries too hard. There's not enough substance in the basically noir-ish screenplay to handle all that Aldrich imposes upon it. As a result, some viewers may find themselves saying "enough" before the film reaches its end, but there are also many who will find the director's "total immersion" approach richly rewarding. Burt Reynolds turns in a surprisingly interesting performance, adopting a world-weary approach that still maintains its vitality. He is, unfortunately, not well matched by Catherine Deneuve, who is stunning to look at but rather too mechanical. There's fine support, however, from Eileen Brennan, Eddie Albert, and especially Ben Johnson, whose compelling performance is, by itself, reason enough to watch. Not for everyone's taste, Hustle is nevertheless a fascinating variation on the cop thriller.