Rated PG for Mild Violence and Romantic Innuendo
Directed By: George Roy Hill
Written By: David S. Ward
Staring: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw, Ray Walston, Harold Gould, Charles Durning, Eileen Brennan, and Robert Earl Jones
What was I supposed to do – call him for cheating better than me, in front of the others? -Doyle Lonnegan
The Sting won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It is shrewd and engaging. It being the second film of the Redford/Newman coupling, high expectations were set, and an even better film than Butch and Sundance was the result.
A small time Grifter by the name of Johnny Hooker seeks out Henry Gondorff, the biggest man in the game of con, after his partner, Luther, has been murdered by Doyle Lonnegan. Johnny wants his revenge and Henry is the only man he knows that could make a con that big. The main obstacle is waking Henry out of the drunken stupor he has been living in for some time. When Henry agrees to help avenge Luther’s death the rest of the film follows with a twisting plot, that sends you in so many different directions you don’t know which end is up. With the FBI persistently looking into things, corrupt cops butting their noses in, and woman who is too good to be true, things don’t settle long enough to know where the truth lies until the final moments.
The time is set in the 1930’s and the cinematography is something to behold. The visuals of the streets and city really give the time a really fleshed out realistic feel. Both the art direction and cinematography are vital contributors to the feel and theme The Sting gives off. Any void left from the back round is overflowed by the witty screenplay and ingenious delivery by the cast members.
This hilarious at times, smart film really works as successfully as it does because so many elements of it’s creation come together so smoothly. At just over two hours it certainly needs to stimulating it’s viewer, but the time passes without a need or desire to check the clock.
One of the greatest scenes in movie history ever is the poker game where Paul Newman takes his cards, places them against his chest and carefully peeks at them, in his “fake” drunkenness. It still sends me into hysterics.
Robert Redford was nominated for an Oscar for best actor in a leading role as Johnny Hooker. I wouldn’t dare downplay Redford’s performance as it occasionally coupled the dark side while still being charismatic and clever, but the magic he and Paul Newman have together makes the greatest onscreen duo in the history of cinema. They compliment each other perfectly in every way, and though the two movies they’ve been in together can stand on their own, what makes them classic is the combination of Newman and Redford.
The Sting is one of the best written and most entertaining movies of all time. It’s survived thirty-five years and is still just as funny as the first time I saw it. It’s clever, amusing, and captivating. Small children may miss the big picture, but this is really a movie that can be enjoyed by the whole family. It’s timeless in it’s delivery. In a nutshell, I adore this movie.