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The Sting (1973)

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Two grifters team up to pull off the ultimate con.

Director:

George Roy Hill

Writer:

David S. Ward
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Popularity
1,453 ( 367)
Top Rated Movies #99 | Won 7 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Newman ... Henry Gondorff
Robert Redford ... Johnny Hooker
Robert Shaw ... Doyle Lonnegan
Charles Durning ... Lt. Wm. Snyder
Ray Walston ... J.J. Singleton
Eileen Brennan ... Billie
Harold Gould ... Kid Twist
John Heffernan John Heffernan ... Eddie Niles
Dana Elcar ... F.B.I. Agent Polk
Jack Kehoe ... Erie Kid
Dimitra Arliss ... Loretta
Robert Earl Jones ... Luther Coleman (as Robertearl Jones)
James Sloyan ... Mottola (as James J. Sloyan)
Charles Dierkop ... Floyd - Bodyguard
Lee Paul Lee Paul ... Bodyguard
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Storyline

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 headlessannie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

...all it takes is a little Confidence. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 December 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Sting See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$159,600,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When George Roy Hill first approached composer Marvin Hamlisch to adapt Scott Joplin's music for the score, Hamlisch was reluctant. He was a composer of original music, after all, and not in the habit of adapting other musicians' work. "I agreed to see a first cut in the screening room," said Hamlisch in his 1992 autobiography The Way I Was. "I quickly realized that this was one of the best pictures I had seen in years...David Ward had written a witty, stylish script, George Roy Hill had directed it faultlessly, and Newman and Redford were the best screen couple in years...One of the things that drew me to The Sting was that George had been shrewd enough to leave little oases without dialogue for the music. He built montages and sequences into the picture for this purpose. Whenever I see patches in a film that are talkless, I'm in heaven." Hamlisch agreed to take on the job. See more »

Goofs

Lonegan's last bet, $500,000.00 takes up every available inch in his briefcase- if Lonegan had won the bet (4 to 1 odds), he would have needed an additional three briefcases (which he didn't bring- nor did his bodyguards) to haul away his winnings. See more »

Quotes

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 credits are animated like a storybook. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Opportunity Knocks (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

Listen to the Mockingbird
(1855) (uncredited)
Music by Richard Milburn
Played at the carousel
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The Moral Order Restored
15 March 2004 | by JamesHitchcockSee all my reviews

Johnny Hooker and Luther Coleman are `grifters' or confidence tricksters in 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 nevertheless wishes to take revenge for his partner's death. He decides that the best way is to hurt Lonnegan's pride by relieving him of some of his wealth. He joins forces with another con man named Henry Gondorff, and together they come up 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 unfolds with great ingenuity; until the final denouement the audience are never quite sure which developments are for real and which are part of the elaborate scheme.

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.


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