Drink & Watch: The Color of Money (Updated)

I've covered the joys of drinking Bourbon while watching "Fast" Eddie Felson blow through glasses of J.T.S. Brown before (and Heaven Hill was nice enough to send me a bottle afterward), but after sitting down this afternoon as a bachelor, my wife out of town, with nothing to do but drink heavily and watch TV, I found myself re-watching The Color of Money, half-saddened by the nostalgia of a world gone by and half-heartened by my resolve after finishing it. If you're a real Bourbon drinker—and by "real" I mean someone who doesn't just happen to prefer wheated whiskies—you'll love the opening minutes where Newman talks Old Grand Dad, Wild Turkey, and the beauty of six year old bonded with the bartender. It's a great introduction to a great drinking movie.

But if you're cynical about the modern age of instant connoisseurship, you'll chuckle when you take a closer look at the sequence where Felson gives Vincent use of his vintage George Balabushka pool cue. One minute Tom Cruise is learning about what a Balabushka is, the next he's out in the pool hall bragging about it to his friends, telling them: "Hey, do you know what this is? It's a Balabushka." One minute we're learning, the next minute we're showing the world how cultured we are. 

To me, it's a scene more reminiscent of Bourbon than the actual, literal Bourbon dialogue during the film's opening. Felson's pool hall era of American whiskey appreciation is dead. Class, understated experience, and slow playing is gone. We're living in Vincent's world now. 

As Eddie says: "Today everything is 9 ball because it's fast; it's good for TV." The irony of his nickname!

But as Vincent says: "Even if it's just for bangers, everybody's doing it. And if everybody's doing it, that's a lot of guys doing it."

Man, am I getting old.

-David Driscoll 

David Driscoll