Poolhall Junkies

Poolhall Junkies
Directed by Mars Callahan
Produced by Karen Beninati, Paul Brooks, Carol Gillson, John J. Hermansen, David Kronemeyer, Nancy Lanham, Vincent Newman, Scott Niemeyer, Joey Nittolo, David Peters, Tucker Tooley, Norm Waitt
Written by Mars Callahan
Chris Corso
Starring Mars Callahan
Alison Eastwood
Chazz Palminteri
Michael Rosenbaum
Rick Schroder
Rod Steiger
Christopher Walken
Music by Richard Glasser
Charlie Terrell
Cinematography Robert Morris
Edited by James Tooley
Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films
Release dates
  • June 8, 2002 (2002-06-08) (CineVegas International Film Festival)
  • February 28, 2003 (2003-02-28)
Running time
94 minutes
Language English
Budget $4,000,000
Box office $563,711

Poolhall Junkies is a 2002 drama thriller film written, starring and directed by Mars Callahan.[1][2]

The film also stars Alison Eastwood, Michael Rosenbaum, Rick Schroder, Rod Steiger (in his final performance), Chazz Palminteri, and Christopher Walken. It is the story of a pool hustler who is opposed by his former mentor and his new prodigy in a climactic big-stakes nine-ball match.


Obsessed by the world of pool, Johnny (Mars Callahan) could be one of the best. But his mentor and "trainer" Joe (Chazz Palminteri), a shady hustler who decides how and who Johnny plays, is holding him back from his dream. When the day finally comes, Johnny breaks from Joe, which leads to only one thing—violence. Joe is beaten up by some of Johnny's buddies as a sign to leave him alone, and with this final act of freedom, Johnny leaves the world of pool-sharking.

After an ultimatum from his girlfriend Tara (Alison Eastwood), Johnny finally commits to a "real" job in the construction business, but is soon miserable there. He finds himself spending most of his time with his younger brother Danny (Michael Rosenbaum) who it seems is following in his footsteps on the road to a life Johnny left when he broke from Joe.

As for Joe, he is bent on revenge for the beating he took, and soon he has a new protégé Brad (Rick Schroder) who is just as good if not better than Johnny. And he's got his eye on Johnny's brother.

The two play a high-stakes game of pool which ends in a huge debt owed to Joe, and soon Johnny finds that his brother is in jail for trying to steal the money he owes. The only way out for Johnny is to play Brad, which results in a "race to nine" showdown that pits two of the greatest players against each other for large sums of money, and Johnny and Danny's lives.

The game comes down to a very difficult shot for Brad. While calculating how to take the shot, Johnny provokes Brad by telling him how easy the shot is and how he would pay him to take it for him. Johnny takes the shot but doesn't sink the final ball. As Brad prepares to take the winning shot, Johnny stops him. Since he had taken Brad's shot for him, it is now Johnny's turn. Johnny easily sinks the last ball and wins the game, using hustling techniques he learned from Joe to do so. In the last scene, Johnny is playing on the pro tour.



There were no camera tricks or special film editing used for any of the billiards shots in the film, although many of the special "trick shots" were performed by billiards legend Robert "Cotton" Leblanc. Mike Massey, another world-renowned trick shot performer, has a cameo appearance as "St. Louis" Louie in the film as well. Christopher Walken made the difficult trick shot to win the match against Tara's (Eastwood) boss on the first take. He was supposed to make a "trial run" for the scene, but he asked that the cameras go ahead and roll, in case he happened to make it on his first try, and he did.

In real life Mars Callahan is an accomplished pool player who met co-writer Chris Corso in a pool hall where each was trying to hustle the other. After a bitterly contested game (neither will tell who actually won) the two became best friends. Swapping war stories about their mutual experiences playing pool, the two decided to write a script based on their experiences and observations. Two weeks later the script was completed, but it would take another ten years to get it to the big screen.


Poolhall Junkies received mostly negative reviews from critics: the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes sampled 44 reviews, and gave the film a "34%" positive rating.[3]


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