The Sting (1973) Poster


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  • The Sting is based on a 1973 screenplay by American movie director David S. Ward who was inspired by some real-life con games perpetrated by brothers Fred and Charley Gondorf and documented by David Maurer in his book The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man. The Sting won the 1974 Academy Award for Best Motion Picture.

  • Erie (Jack Kehoe) was the one who "mugged" Luther (Robert Earl Jones) and gave Hooker (Robert Redford) a reason to decline Luther's invitation to carry his money to the fake drop-off location. Establishing the "mugging" also gave Matolla (James Sloyan) the chance to be a hero and provide Luther with a reason to trust him with his money and then to swindle it from him in the "switch" inside the hankies. Erie's role may not have been as great as Hooker's or Luther's but it was critical to the overall con.

  • Just because someone is born somewhere doesn't mean they grew up there too. Lonnegan might have been born in Five Points but he could have grown up elsewhere (in a place where his accent is common). Also, the Five Points district in New York City was a low income area, usually inhabited by immigrants. Those immigrants could have been Irish, Italian or even Jewish. Another film that deals with Irish immigrants in Five Points is Gangs of New York (2002) (2002).

  • This is an indicator of two aspects of Lonnegan's character. First, that he could order the murder of someone who he is so disassociated from that he doesn't even know what they look like. Secondly, that Lonnegan is such a "big fish" that he doesn't know about the day to day operations conducted by, and carnage inflicted by, his organization.

  • This is in the midst of the Great Depression. A half million dollars is a lot of money even now. Another way to look at it is that $500,000 in 1935 would be equal to over 8 million in 2011 dollars. Back then it would have been a great fortune, more than enough to cover the renting of furniture and the time of the couple dozen extras needed to pull off the con, still leaving enough left over for the main players to split.

  • When they are renting furniture in order to set up betting salon, they offer the renter his choice of a percentage or a flat rate. When he hears that the mark is Doyle Lonnegan he insists on a flat rate. A percentage would be a share of the take. It promises more money but is, of course, only payable if they succeed in the con. A flat rate is a set up front payment. When he hears that Lonnegan is the mark, the renter assumes that either the con will fail or that the guys pulling it off will be killed soon afterwards and will be unable to pay him his money, so he insists on payment up front

  • If movies about con jobs is what you are after, check out Confidence (2003) (2003), in which a grifter attempts to pull the biggest con of his life against a banker with ties to the mob. In House of Games (1987) (1987), a psychiatrist finds herself involved in running cons during poker games. In Miller's Crossing (1990) (1999), two crime factions rival and a good-hearted guy gets caught in between trying to keep the peace. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) (1988), while more of a comedy, pits two cons against each other when they decide that a small town on the French Mediterranean coast isn't big enough for the two of them. The BBC series Hustle (2004) (2004) was also heavily influenced by the film, even imitating some of the cons and elements in episodes.


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