After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.
Johnny Hooker, a small time grifter, unknowingly steals from Doyle Lonnegan, a big time crime boss, when he pulls a standard street con. Lonnegan demands satisfaction for the insult. After his partner, Luther, is killed, Hooker flees, and seeks the help of Henry Gondorff, one of Luther's contacts, who is a master of the long con. Hooker wants to use Gondorff's expertise to take Lonnegan for an enormous sum of money to even the score, since he admits he "doesn't know enough about killing to kill him." They devise a complicated scheme and amass a talented group of other con artists who want their share of the reparations. The stakes are high in this game, and our heroes must not only deal with Lonnegan's murderous tendencies, but also other side players who want a piece of the action. To win, Hooker and Gondorff will need all their skills...and a fair amount of confidence. Written by
According to Paul Newman, one afternoon of friendly drinks together triggered a series of competitive practical jokes between himself and George Roy Hill. Hill invited Newman to his office for a drink one afternoon. Just before, however, Hill told Newman that he had no beer or vodka and asked him to pick some up and bring it with him. Newman agreed. Later, Newman sent Hill a bill for $8.00. Hill responded to the bill by sending Newman a three page letter about the nature of friendship and how Newman had abused it. Newman responded to that by cutting Hill's desk in half with a chainsaw and leaving a note that said: "This isn't about friendship, it's about $8.00. I may detonate the entire bungalow next time, so I wouldn't mess around." Later, Newman received a bill from Universal Studios in the amount of $800 to pay for the damage to the desk. Newman never paid. See more »
After Synder smashes his gun through the phone booth and hits Hooker on the side of the face, Hooker's hat falls off to the right and Hooker traps the hat between his head and the inside wall of the booth. In the next shot, Hooker is wearing his hat as if it never fell off. See more »
[Gondorff enters the poker game pretending to be drunk]
Sorry I'm late. I was taking a crap.
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The opening animated logo for Universal Pictures is in 1930s style, matching the movie's setting, instead of the 1970s version. See more »
Small time conmen Johnny Hooker and Luther Coleman unwittingly scam a runner for Chicago main man Doyle Lonnegan. When Luther is murdered, Hooker goes on the run and seeks out Luther's old friend Henry Gondorff to help him put together a major sting to take revenge on Lonnegan. However with so much heat on Hooker and the stakes so high can they pull it off and get away clean?
Almost a follow up to Butch and Sundance, this film partners the stars of the day Newman and Redford to good effect. The story is a little less fun but still very enjoyable to watch as it builds to a great finale. The use of chapters ran the risk of fragmenting the film into bits but instead it really helps set it out and makes it more manageable. Although it is not as light hearted and jovial as the theme music suggests it still manages to flow nicely with the slightly darker drama not spoiling anything but only serving to make it feel more grown up.
The cast are all very good and make the film easy to watch. Redford comes off the best in terms of characters and his role really suits both his carefree attitude (the start of the film) but also his more serious side (the rest of the film). Newman has a lesser role that perhaps doesn't suit him quite as well, but he does have several really good scenes (the hustles) where he does very good work. Shaw's accent is a little heavy at first but I got used to it and it worked for me and he was a really good foil for Redford/Newman. The support cast including Durning, Walston, Gould, Jones and others all do good work.
The direction and use of music is really good and the sense of period is well crafted and doesn't just feel like it was painted on. I'm not sure if it deserved Best Picture or not because I don't know what the rest of the field was for that year but it is a really enjoyable film that is quite fun to watch several times even 30 years later and isn't that the main thing?
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