Metacritic.com: 61 Out of 100
Commonsensemedia.org: 4 Out of 5 Stars
Starring: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw, Charles Durning, Ray Walston, Eileen Brennan, Dimitra Arliss, Ed Bakey, Leonard Barr, William Benedict, Jack Collins, Charles Dierkop, Dana Elcar, Harold Gould, John Heffernan, Arch Johnson, Robert Earl Jones, Jack Kehoe, Sally Kirkland, Avon Long, Larry D. Mann, Paulene Myers, Kenneth W. O'Brien, Lee Paul, John Quade, Ken Sansom, James J. Sloyan, Tom Spratley, Brad Sullivan, Joe Tornatore
Director: George Roy Hill
Jason's Rating: 4 and 1/3 Out of 5 Stars
OVERVIEW: 1973’s ‘The Sting’ is a Paul Newman classic- it’s one of George Roy Hill’s best films. The Acting is spot- on, the score’s great, the scripts hilarious, but at the same time clever and dramatic. The score is filled with the music that people couldn’t get enough of in the ‘70’s, (Well, actually, it’s pretty much just the same song, ‘The Entertainer’ over and over again, but hey, it’s still awesome) but it simply accents an entertaining movie about two guys, a girl, a game of cards, and the greatest heist in history (Well, at the time).
SYNOPSIS: Local con man John Hooker (Robert Redford) and his fellow con partner, Luther, manage to con a random guy on the street out of 1,000 dollars one day. After blowing 300 of it at a club, Hooker is tackled by the police out of the 2,000. He discovers from them that it turns out the guy he conned that day was part of the mob, and that they killed Luther. John Hooker has given them fake 2,000 dollar bills, so now he’s on the run from the mob and the police.
It looks like John Hooker won’t last more than two days, doesn’t it? Well, before John has a plan. Before he went to the club, Luther had a discussion with him about going to the big leagues—to leave him behind and make big money. So, he gives him contacts to the greatest con man ever, Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman). The only reason he hasn’t been well known lately is because he blew the money.
After meeting up with him, they formulate a plan (and their acting here is excellent—it really looks like Hooker’s betraying Gondorff, so I got a bit confused—their multiple characters in the story are all portrayed so excellently its hilarious) to con money off Doyle Lonnegan, local mobster, as to get their comeuppance for Luther. Henry plays a game of poker with him on a train ride back home (Both are cheating, and both know each other are cheating—hey, it’s poker). Henry wins.
John goes to Doyle’s compartment and tells him that Henry cheated, and that he wants to make a deal with him. He wants to get revenge on Henry for not dishing out all the money. So, he tells him about his contacts at the horse races—it’ll make him lots of money, and he only wants a small part of it.
From here on, the story starts to twist and turn itself into a mysterious (and sometimes violent) intriguing, and yet, even more hilarious film than ever before. It involves surprising twists on the mob development, astonishing plot twists, and in the end, an ultimately satisfying film. (And the mob here gave me more chills than in The Godfather or Goodfellas)
Part of the fun of The Sting is just how elaborate the schemes can be. The entire point of the movie is basically the last person to outsmart the other wins. It’s hilarity and complexity is wrapped up together in a nice little bow- between the multiple parts of the movie, (Separated with a nice little place card with a title) and Paul Newman’s and Robert Redford’s acting at its best, you have a fun little movie that those smart enough to keep up pace with it will enjoy.
The thing is with this movie, it seems to be more of an unintentional dramedy that it is. It seemed to be more aiming for a serious flick in the beginning, but it decided, hey, this would make a sweet comedy—in the end, that’s what it became. The only problem with this, however, is that in the end, it seems that some moral and ethical values are being raised. I was just about to note that in my head for a review when I realized it was just a joke to raise the stakes and suspense, but in the end, it totally worked.
Basically, it’s a wonderful family comedy that’s got suspense, comedy, fabulous acting, and a sprinkling of drama. Not perfect, but as perfect as a movie like this could be.