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The Sting (1973)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Drama  |  26 December 1973 (UK)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 159,728 users  
Reviews: 241 user | 115 critic

In Chicago in September 1936, a young con man seeking revenge for his murdered partner teams up with a master of the big con to win a fortune from a criminal banker.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Heffernan ...
Eddie Niles
Jack Kehoe ...
Erie Kid
Dimitra Arliss ...
Robert Earl Jones ...
Luther Coleman (as Robertearl Jones)
Mottola (as James J. Sloyan)
Charles Dierkop ...
Floyd - Bodyguard


When a mutual friend is killed by a mob boss, two con men, one experienced and one young try to get even by pulling off the big con on the mob boss. The story unfolds with several twists and last minute alterations. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

con | con man | long con | murder | courier | See All (92) »


Recapture "the STING Experience". REMEMBER HOW GOOD THE FEEL WAS THE FIRST TIME (re-release) See more »


Comedy | Crime | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

26 December 1973 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Der Clou  »

Box Office


$5,500,000 (estimated)


$159,600,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Edith Head won her 8th and final Best Costume Design Academy Award for this film. "Just imagine," she said during her acceptance speech. "Dressing the two handsomest men in the world and then getting this." See more »


Regarding the money that Hooker and Luther switch away from Motola. When Hooker goes to open the envelope in the alley, it is not sealed. It was sealed by Granger in the office before being given to Motola. See more »


Kid Twist: Now how do you want to work this? Flat rate or percentage?
Benny Garfield: Who's the mark?
Kid Twist: Doyle Lonnegan.
Benny Garfield: Flat rate.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening animated logo for Universal Pictures is in 1930s style, matching the movie's setting, instead of the 1970s version. See more »


Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Blythe Danner/Rickie Lee Jones (1982) See more »


Gladiolus Rag
(1907) (uncredited)
Written by Scott Joplin
Conducted and Adapted by Marvin Hamlisch
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Everything's Jake In Second Trip To Well
29 December 2004 | by (Greenwich, CT United States) – See all my reviews

The fix is in, the odds are set, and the boys are ready to play for the big time, both on the screen and behind the camera in this breezy, endlessly entertaining movie classic.

Robert Redford is small-time hustler Johnny Hooker, happy to play the marks in Joliet until the murder of his mentor pushes him to go up against the nastiest mug in Chicago, Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw.) Hooker'd rather ice Lonnegan outright, but will settle for a big con with the help of a slightly wobbly but game scammer named Henry Gondorff, played as only Paul Newman can.

Newman and Redford, along with director George Roy Hill, had a lot riding on this pony, given it was a follow-up to their earlier "Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid." To measure up, they had to produce nothing short of another classic. And so they did. "The Sting" won the Best Picture Oscar in 1973, and remains the sentimental favorite among many in choosing between the two films.

Comparing "The Sting" to "Butch Cassidy" is kind of overdone sport, and tempers, as Lonnegan would say, run hot. But you can see why "The Sting" worked as well as it did by looking at how the director and the stars played it differently within the same basic framework as "Butch Cassidy." Newman and Redford are again outlaws and underdogs. Period detail abounds here as it did with "Butch Cassidy," and there's another memorable score amid the proceedings, Scott Joplin rags modernized by Marvin Hamlisch. The score even produced another hit, "The Entertainer," to compare with "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head."

What's different about "The Sting," and what makes it such a classic in its own right, is the way the stars service the plot. In "Butch Cassidy," Newman and Redford's comradeship was the story. Here, the chemistry between the two actors is minimized in favor of spinning a yarn with enough red herrings to feed the Swedish navy. The tale here is better than "Butch Cassidy," which is a more elegiac film with grander cinematography and funnier set pieces. "The Sting" is an edge-of-your-seat caper flick from beginning to end.

You can't really call "The Sting" a comedy. Though there are many laughs, especially when Newman hooks Shaw during a poker game, Hill won't let the audience relax enough for that. What this is is a con game, played on the audience, designed not to cheat but entertain by means of clever hoodwinking and constant misdirection plays.

You'll get no spoilers from me. This is one worth sitting through with no expectations. Five gets you ten you'll enjoy Newman and Redford, and a terrific supporting cast (one advantage over "Butch Cassidy") that includes Charles Durning, Eileen Brennan, Dana Elcar, Harold Gould, and Mr. Hand himself, Ray Walston. There's another familiar face from "Butch Cassidy," Charles Dierkop, Flat Nose Curry in "Butch Cassidy" and Lonnegan's right hand here. The best performance may be Robert Shaw's; he exudes menace aplenty but some humanity, too, when he takes Hooker under his wing after learning he came from the same hard streets of Five Points Lonnegan sprang from.

Terrific period detail, too. The dialogue is great and feels real in its Runyonesque way, while the cons are elaborate and logically played out. Watching this a second time is especially fun because once you know how the plot goes down, you find yourself catching clues you missed the first time, and enjoying the film even more for them.

Why didn't Newman and Redford team up again? Certainly there was another good movie for them to partner up in, but as Gondorff would have put it, only chumps don't quit when they're ahead.

75 of 97 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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If you weren't alive in 1973-74, you probably have no idea... kentor404
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