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Hustle Hair: In David O. Russell’s con-artist tale, hair defines character

Dennis King Published: December 20, 2013
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"American Hustle" cast and hair
"American Hustle" cast and hair

NEW YORK – If hair ever deserved an Oscar nomination, it does for “American Hustle.” In David O. Russell’s snazzy 1970s con-artist saga, it took a crew of 19 stylists to wrangle the confectionary hair designs of the film’s motley crew of hustlers and neurotics.

The movie, loosely based on the real-life Abscam scandal, follows the travails of New York con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who, along with his seductive faux-British mistress, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), is forced to work for a wildly ambitious FBI agent, Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso’s sting operation leads them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia bigwigs. But the scam threatens to come undone when Irv’s bored, loose-cannon wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), starts meddling in her husband’s business.

Here’s a quick roster of the characters and their animated hair styles:

Irv – Bale’s vain, small-time hustler constructs one of the most artfully elaborate comb-overs ever to cover his bald pate, consisting of a furry thatch, a few strands of stringy hair, lots of glue and a noxious cloud of bonding hair spray. It looks like a badger died on his head

Sydney – Adams’ fiery red locks are styled in various ways, but her signature look is a cascade of wavy, overflowing scarlet tresses that call to mind the spunky lass of the animated adventure “Brave.”

Richie – Cooper’s conniving FBI man fashions his hair with a curly home perm, reminiscent of the corkscrew stylings of ‘70s era baseball pitcher Dock Ellis.

Rosalyn – Lawrence’s fast-talking Long Island housewife sports an unruly, flyaway updo that suggests a piled-high butterscotch sundae on the verge of melting down completely.

New Jersey mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) – Renner’s character is polyester Jersey type who sports a towering Elvis pompadour that marks him as a regular Joe and man of the people.

Watch this year’s Oscar nominees for best makeup and hair styling to see if the “American Hustle” hair sculptors get their just rewards.

- Dennis King



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