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This film deserved every Oscar thrown at it. It looks good, it's funny,
it's extremely complex but doesn't dwell on the fact for a moment: if
you can spot the twists, you haven't got time to sit back smugly as
they pop up - everything rushes on. The acting's good as is the story,
one carrying the other. I can't think of a movie where people so
obviously had as much fun - maybe (Soderbergh's) Ocean's Eleven, or
even Some Like It Hot? The soundtrack is brilliant too, contemporaneous
Joplin rags evoking the time and its contradictions artlessly.
The bit that raises this film the one notch higher though is a short, central sequence, in which the music plays as high profile a part as any character or narrative aside. It's the night before The Sting and Redford is drawn to the drugstore girl who's trying to leave town. Perfectly framed by the bittersweetest of the blues/rags he asks her out for a drink - revealing his vulnerability for the first time in a movie where everybody's pretending to be someone else: 'It's 2 o'clock in the morning and I don't know nobody.' Despite all the caper and thrill of grifting all he wants is what we all want. It's a rich, compassionate heart to a virtuosic piece of film-making. 9.5/10
A delicious wheeze from start to finish. Certainly a film that leaves you thinking that you'd like to have been in Henry's gang and played a part in separating Lonnegan from his dough. The editing is pin sharp and beautifully cast with a superb musical track to keep you company. The framing, the photography, the pace all dovetail exquisitely and if you feel left outside of the game plan in your first viewing, never fear, the second time of watching, you'll enjoy it just as much but it will mean more. Certainly it's a film you'll want to see a second time. At least. Oscars rightly by the handful and nominations are full deserved to combine for a winning performance by all concerned. Definitely in my top fifty of all time.
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.
Johnny Hooker and Luther Coleman are `grifters' or confidence tricksters
1930s Chicago. Unknown to them, however, one of their victims works for a
vicious local gangster named Doyle Lonnegan, and when Lonnegan finds out
what has happened he has Luther murdered. Hooker is not a violent man by
nature and admits that he does not know much about killing, but
wishes to take revenge for his partner's death. He decides that the best
is to hurt Lonnegan's pride by relieving him of some of his wealth. He
forces with another con man named Henry Gondorff, and together they come
with an elaborate plan, not only to cheat Lonnegan, but also to do it in
such a way that he never realises that he has been cheated. The plot
with great ingenuity; until the final denouement the audience are never
quite sure which developments are for real and which are part of the
Crime thrillers set during this period are normally associated with the classic `film noir' style, with its dark, brooding, cynical atmosphere. In `The Sting', however, George Roy Hill deliberately sets out to create a very different mood. The style is almost the exact opposite of film noir. The acting is heavily stylised (as is the scenery), and the division of the film into sections with titles such as `The Hook' or `The Line' is reminiscent of the formal division of a stage play into acts and scenes. The film is not in black-and-white but in bright colour, and the mood, far from being heavy and brooding, is light and cheerful. Scott Joplin's music, although written slightly earlier than the period in which the film is set, fits this mood perfectly. The major actors all play their parts perfectly- Robert Shaw as the glowering, menacing Lonnegan, Robert Redford as the young, idealistic Hooker (insofar as a con-man can be said to be an idealist), and Paul Newman as the older, more experienced and laid-back Gondorff. There are also good contributions from Charles Durning as the corrupt policement Lieutenant Snyder and Robert Earl Jones as Luther.
Despite the cheerful mood, the film has serious undertones in keeping with its themes of revenge and murder. I am not usually a great admirer of what are known as `heist' or `caper' movies, as I feel that too often they glamourise crime and dishonesty. `The Sting', however, is different. Hooker and Gondorff live in a world where the moral order has broken down. The police are hopelessly corrupt- Snyder, the one representative we see of the forces of law and order, is on Lonnegan's payroll. There is no chance of Hooker getting justice for his friend's murder through the normal channels; the only way in which this can be achieved is to go outside the law. Where the police are crooked, only the criminals can execute justice. The emotional satisfaction we feel at the end of the film is because a sort of moral order has finally been restored and, moreover, because this has been done without anyone getting injured except Lonnegan's wallet. An excellent film, which well deserved its Academy Award. 9/10.
A magical plot, dead on art direction, brilliant supporting roles (most notably Robert Shaw, ya falla?), and the guiding hand of Redford/Newman chemistry make this one of the Hollywood's great films. "The Sting" is a hallmark of the "Golden Age" of American film, and has molded not only countless films, but numerous genres, few of which have met the challenge of its master.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
THE STING is so full of twists and turns at every unexpected moment
that it never stops drawing you into all of its traps. All of it is
performed at a fast clip and the performances have all the nuances
needed to keep you entertained and in suspense.
Sparked by perfect period detail, a Scott Joplin piano score courtesy of Marvin Hamlisch and grand performances, it is gritty and at all times entertaining--it deserves to be seen more than once to relish all the tricks you missed the first time.
For full enjoyment, a plot description is better left for the first time viewer to discover so I won't give any plot details here.
The three central performances are perfection--Robert Redford, so comfortable in a role he was obviously born to play, Paul Newman, the epitome of a confidence trickster and Robert Shaw as the man who falls hard for The Sting. Newman and Redford are even more at home here than they were as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
No wonder it won so many '73 Oscars--including Best Picture. A film to relish again and again, with scenes that never lose their punch. The story is full of clever touches that will hook you into the 1930s atmosphere and have you waiting for the knockout ending.
Watch for the scene of Redford and the waitress he seeks out at 2:00 a.m. It's the kind of acting that can melt your heart.
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
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?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Newman was again teamed with director George Roy Hill and Robert
Redford, and the two stars again played outlaws who are basically
easy-going and human, and whose criminal exploits are comically
Here the setting is Chicago in 1936 Henry Gondorff (Newman), a well-known, slight1y aging con artist, is hiding from the law, but he comes out of retirement to teach small-time hustler Johnny Hooker (Redford) the "Big Con." With the assistance of a large group of amiable crooks, the two work out an elaborate scheme to cheat an important racketeer, Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), out of $500,000.
Unlike "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," the film is inordinately complicated, and has many twists, turns and surprises It is actually one con game after another, with the audience tricked as well as the characters The steps in the swindle fall neatly into place in the manner of television's 'Mission: Impossible,' although once we think about the plot, it makes little sense But we're not meant to think; "The Sting" is designed, and works extremely well, as clever entertainment
Perhaps it was the Newman-Redford team that made "The Sting" popular, and Newman alone may have difficulty drawing audiences, but one thing is certain: In fifty one years of film acting, Newman has become one of the screen's most magnetic stars Even today the very mention of his name evokes an aura of moody rebelliousness, rugged individualism, cool detachment and, above all, overpowering sex appeal And he has created more memorable characters than have most actors in much longer periods of time At least four"The Hustler," "Hud," "Cool Hand Luke" and "Butch Cassidy"are so well-known, so indelibly impressed on the public consciousness, that they stand among the immortals of the screen
"The Sting" received ten Academy Award nominationsmore than any other Newman film
The Sting, evoking a bygone era of gangsters and con men, was the
deserved Best Picture of 1973. The Sting won that Oscar plus a whole
flock of technical awards. One award it didn't win was for Robert
Redford as Best Actor.
That must have been tough for the Academy voters because to single out Redford as opposed to Paul Newman must have felt a bit unjust. For though Newman was nominated many times over his career and finally did win for The Color of Money, did not get a nomination for The Sting.
Robert Redford is a small time grifter who while working a bait and switch street con takes off a numbers runner carrying the weekly take. The orders come down from the head man himself, Irish-American gangster Robert Shaw to kill those who did this as an example.
Redford's mentor, Robert Earl Jones, is in fact killed, mainly because Redford starts spending a lot of that newly acquired loot that tips them off. Redford wants revenge so he looks up big time con man Paul Newman who himself is dodging law enforcement as is Redford also.
They work the big con on Shaw and it's a beauty. The scheme they have is something to behold. They also have to do a couple of improvisations on the fly that lend a few twists to the scheme.
The costumes and sets really do evoke Chicago of the Thirties and director George Roy Hill assembles a great cast to support Newman and Redford. My favorite in the whole group is Charles Durning, who plays the brutally corrupt, but essentially dumb cop from Joliet who nearly gums up the works and has to be dealt with.
Special mention should also go to Robert Shaw. He's got a difficult part, maybe the most difficult in the film. He's not stupid, he would not have gotten to the top of the rackets if he was. But he also has to show that hint of human weakness that Newman, Redford, and the whole mob they assemble that makes him vulnerable to the con.
During the sixties and seventies Robert Shaw was really coming into his own as a player, getting more and more acclaim for his work. His early death was a real tragedy, there was so much more he could have been doing.
Can't also forget another co-star in this film, the ragtime music of Scott Joplin that was used to score The Sting. It probably is what most people remember about The Sting. Music from the Theodore Roosevelt era, scoring a film set in the Franklin Roosevelt era made while Nixon was president. Strange, but it actually works.
The Sting still works wonders today.
Great comedy-crime caper with giants Newman and Redford rekindling their "Butch & Sundance" flame to take down crime lord Robert Shaw (his finest role). Marvin Hamlisch beautifully recreates Scott Joplin's great music, while director George Roy Hill and screenwriter David S. Ward keep the film moving with snappy dialogue, wonderful art direction and editing and an excellent supporting cast. Followed by a sequel ten years later with Jackie Gleason.
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