Con artists aren’t bad people, they lie and get rich for it, just like any politician.
After rookie grifter Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) tracks down veteran flim-flam man Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) in 1930s Chicago, the duo plans to fleece a homicidal racketeer (Robert Shaw) through a phony racetrack scam involving a string of double and triple crosses.
This is a film that came out way back in 1973 and caused a stink because it was a mainstream comedy that actually won Best Picture. Yes everybody, a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously won Best Picture.
Director George Roy Hill seems like he’s having a whole lot of fun with this material because almost every little piece of dialogue, is either a hint of humor or a little twist in the story. I usually always like twisty-films, especially ones about con artists, but Hill did a great job at keeping this film fun without losing sight of the twists that kept me interested in what was going to happen next with this story as the film went on.
The film also made me feel and look as if I was actually in the depression era-30’s. The production details are just about perfect with almost every set looking like it was straight out of a picture, and everybody fitting into their shirts, ties, hats, and long coats that make them all look streakers. But I can’t also forget to talk about the music in this film which was actually a bunch of old-school ragtime songs from composer Scott Joplin which add so much more to the film, and give it that very care-free and fun vibe that the film strives for. It’s a shame that so many films try so hard with their bigger budgets and bigger sets to make anything look like a set-piece from the 30’s or so, but they all just look like their trying too hard where this film doesn’t seem to really bother and still scores well.
My main problem with this film is that it does go on for about 2 hours and 9 minutes, which in and of itself starts to seem a little long for this kind of material. I mean with the first hour and 30 minutes, I was on the edge-of-my-seat laughing and wondering what just was going to happen next, but then starts to lose its spice it had with that first act and was kind of disappointing considering how much it actually had going for itself.
Did anybody else also notice how unnecessary the female angle this film puts in? With a film fulls of twists like this, the weirdest and probably most random was about some chick, which was probably the 4th out of the about 6 we see in this whole film, but it was still random and to be honest had no reason to actually be in there other than to show another twist and mess with it’s audience.
Robert Redford is very good here as Hooker, a kid who seems so cool, relaxed, and knowing of everything around him. Redford is he one guy we have to watch this whole film and he’s very good at playing this slick and charming dude he plays in almost every film. I wish I could say more about him but there’s nothing really else to say other than he’s just cool in this role. Paul Newman as Gondorff also plays up his coolness in a more wise way that makes Redford sort of seem like a chump. These two still have great chemistry and in this film they both show just how great they are together. It’s weird that they actually get along better than a lot of married couples do. Oh and Mr. Hand is here too.
Consensus: Though it runs on too long, The Sting is still beautiful to look at as well as being incredibly entertaining, charming, funny, well-acted, and featuring lots and lots of twists and turns to keep any watcher on the edge of their seat.