The other day I ran across a video of bowling and billiards trick shots and it reminded me that there used to be a magazine called The National Bowlers Journal & Billiard Review, published from 1913 until 1978 when the magazine split into two new publications: Bowlers Journal and Billiards Digest. I subscribe to Billiards Digest even though I don’t play pool as often as I did back in college when I was a regular at Tom’s Pool Hall, but that’s another story.
Why billiards and bowling once shared magazine space is a mystery, although it was probably for economy, but it got me wondering if they really have anything to do with each other. Well, they both have shady reputations, especially on film.
Consider the following baseball films: The Natural, Field Of Dreams, Pride Of The Yankees, 42, even Bull Durham. The sport is presented as noble and heroic, as are many of its players.
Now consider the following football films: The Blind Side, Remember The Titans, Friday Night Lights, Any Given Sunday. Again these are films that present the sport as noble and many of its players as heroic.
When it comes to billiards, well, I can count the number of pool films on one hand and still have fingers left over–mainly The Hustler and its sequel The Color Of Money. Billiards, according to Hollywood, anyway, is a game of cheats, cons, and questionable characters. The same holds for the only film I can think of about bowling–Kingpin. In many TV series and movies, though, bowling is presented as a wholesome, family activity, whereas billiards is almost always a backdrop to a sinister plot or a prelude to a bar fight.
Anyway here’s the video.