Wednesday, February 16, 2011

558. The Sting (1973)

Running Time: 129 minutes
Directed By: George Roy Hill
Written By: David S. Ward
Main Cast: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw, Charles Durning, Ray Walston


I took a small break from watching movies from the "1001" book for the past couple of days, so that my wife and I could enjoy our Valentine's Day Weekend in bed, watching other movies. We saw some great movies and some terrible ones, but that's now what we're here to talk about, now is it? Today we're talking about Newman and Redford once again and this time it's the tandem teaming up in "The Sting".

Johnny Hooker (Redford) is a street-wise conman and a very good one at that. He proves his worth when he pinches a numbers runner for a big time crime boss, Doyle Lonnegan (Shaw). When word gets back to Lonnegan that he's been conned, he aims to make an example of any "grifters" who have their sights set on his dough. He puts the word out to his boys to take down Hooker and when Hooker shakes Lonnegan's boys by paying them off with counterfeit money, they kill Hooker's friend and fellow conman Luther. Hooker now has revenge in his head and tracks down Henry Gondorff (Newman), a man skilled in the art of the "big con". Gondorff also knew Luther and with a mixture of revenge and riches on their mind, Hooker and Gondorff set out to pull of the biggest of the big cons on Lonnegan.


It was a smart move to watch "The Sting" in conjunction with "Butch Cassidy...", as they really go well together and make a pretty good pair of movies, especially for fans of classics or the pairing of Newman and Redford. Both portray the characters of Newman and Redford as criminals, yet they're the types of criminals we're meant to root for and have a hell of a time doing so. Once again Robert Redford doesn't fail to impress me here and once again I have to say that I enjoyed him more than Newman. I think it's more of an underestimation on my part, as I just really never paid too much attention to Robert Redford and now I'm getting a wake up call to the fact that he was a hell of an actor. The scenes in "The Sting" are perfectly shot, in that they turn a normally tame scene of Gondorff and Lonnegan playing poker, into a real nail biter. Another thing I have to hand to the makers of "The Sting" is that they really captured the time period. Now, not that I lived in the 1930s, but this is exactly how I would picture downtown Chicago during the Depression era. The music, settings and costumes in "The Sting" we're fantastic and it really made you yearn to be around during that time period.

Now on to the cons...and no I'm not talking about the ones IN the movie. For the most part I enjoyed "The Sting", but I think there was definitely a point there in the middle where it felt like we were just killing time. It wasn't boring at all during, but afterwards when the film was over, it just felt like for a movie that was over two hours in length, not a whole lot happened. They managed to keep the momentum going though and like I said, there was never a point where you were staring at the clock and sighing with impatience. There was also a little bit of predictability in there, with the whole FBI part of the con thrown in, which I wasn't crazy about. It just seemed to provide us with more of a twist ending and I thought the movie could've ended just fine without it, with Robert Shaw screaming at the top of his lungs and throwing a Robert Shaw caliber hissy fit, because he lost a half million bucks. But hey, the FBI racket was the focal point for Dana Elcar, a guy I haven't seen in ages, not since his Pete Thornton days on "MacGyver". And speaking of cast I also thought Ray Walston, Charles Durning and Harold Gould all did magnificent jobs.

RATING: 7/10 I liked "Butch Cassidy..." better, but this was still a lot of fun and I'd highly recommend watching them both as a double feature. On a side note, I just realized that the Oscars are in less than two weeks and I've decided to let "The Sting" be our segue into a week filled with some Best Picture Oscar look out for those.


February 16, 2010 1:52am

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