Top 10 Billiard Brawls. ~ Jason Moss

What is it about a pool hall that seems to instigate unbridled paroxysms of rage, extended periods of bedlam and brutal bouts of barbarity—at least in the imaginations of filmmakers, screenwriters and producers?

In their defense, the linkage is not totally unfounded.

In a five-year study done by the Research Institute on Addictions at the State University of New York at Buffalo, the researchers found that “bar characteristics that are related to the occurrence of violence included: smokiness, noise, temperature, dirt, darkness, crowding, poor ventilation, the presence of competitive games (e.g., darts, pool) bouncers, and more male than female employees.”

On the other hand, a more recent study from 2012 revealed that among the “hot spots” for barroom aggression, the pool-playing area accounted for just 4% of the incidents of violence, as opposed to on or near the dance floor (31%), at the bar (16%), or at tables (13%).

Yes, there’s a scintilla of veracity underlying the pool hall free-for-all, but it’s hardly significant enough to warrant all the attention it generates on the silver screen. Nonetheless, movies abound with pool hall pandemonium.

Perhaps, it’s the butcherly utility embodied in a cue stick—59 inches of tapered wood—that can be used to whack, jab, puncture, impale, skewer, bonk or bludgeon. Or, maybe it’s the spherical perfection of a billiards ball, hardened with a phenolic resin, that invite the amateur pugilist to wield it for all sorts of sanguinary purposes.