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Winner of 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, The Sting stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford as two con men in 1930s Chicago. After a friend is killed by the mob, they try to get even by attempting to pull off the ultimate "sting." No one is to be trusted as the twists unfold, leading up to one of the greatest double-crosses in movie history. The con is on!
A sparkling print, remastered sound (including a DTS track), and a nifty hour-long retrospective makes this 2005 "Legacy Series" edition a solid step-up from the 1998 DVD and its mono soundtrack. Paul Newman and Robert Redford dish about their film 30 years later and lay praise on director George Roy Hill (who died in 2002). The three-part documentary goes deep into the cast for memories from Ray Walston, Charles Durning, and Dimitra Arliss, along with writer David Ward and composer Marvin Hamlisch. Some easy talking points--the Oscars and legendary costume designer Edith Head--are left to the production notes. Also oddly missing are the award-winning producers and references to being the second collaboration of Newman-Redford-Hill after Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (which led to the film's tagline, "Will they get away with it this time?"). Watch to the end of the doc for some brutally honest remarks by Newman on the studio system. --Doug Thomas
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The Sting was another huge hit, with Newman as the wise old con man Henry Gondorff, and Redford as the up-and-coming con man Johnny Hooker. All the way down the cast list you find accomplished actors, and the intricate screenplay needed just such pros to make it work. Robert Shaw portrays an Irish gangster, Doyle Lonnegan, a tough who tells one of his henchmen that he would even kill a childhood friend if necessary to preserve his hold on the mob.
Gondorff and Hooker, the small-time grifters, are out for revenge against Lonnegan for killing one of their old con-man accomplices. Regarding Lonnegan, Johnny Hooker says "he's not as tough as he thinks", to which the more experienced Gondorff replies, "neither are we." Gritty realism flows through the entire film, but the story is told with a light comedic touch. Of special note is the soundtrack music of Scott Joplin, now most famous for "The Entertainer" due to its use in The Sting. Joplin's music was actually from a time even earlier than the setting of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but its spirit does seem to fit the time of The Sting.
When a film succeeds, or when it fails, much credit or blame is due the director. George Roy Hill took this complex story, delicately balanced between tragedy and farce, and made it work. At least four sub-plots are interwoven, and each is brought to a conclusion with no loose ends. The Sting is a greatly enjoyable film, and a tribute to Hill's craftsmanship and that of his stellar cast.
This one is so good that it is worth the upgrade to Blu-ray. There is a bit of controversy about the aspect ratio, whether 1.37 to 1 or 1.85 to 1. I am normally very sensitive to such things, but seeing both versions years apart, I noticed nothing amiss. For what it is worth, the Blu-ray picture quality in The Sting is way better than that in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.