Customer Reviews: The Sting (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)
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on February 12, 2007
Honestly i've seen better HD DVD's but still this one is remastered like crazy,its a hell of alot clearer than the original dvd release and its amazing to see what they can do with movies such as old as this one. I mean 1973 this movie comes out and after watching the HD DVD you would think it was a new release. All in all to keep this short this is an amazing film and you should pick it up on HD DVD right now!
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on February 16, 2000
The acting is wonderful, the suprises are unpredictable, and overall, this is one of the most original movies I've ever seen in my life. There can be no duplicates. And evey time i watch this movie, some how I notice about five things I've never seen before, like it changes every time. And no, I'm not an old movie collector or total classic lover, actually, I'm only sixteen. But this is easily one of my favorite movies in history. My favorite scene is with the card playing on the train.
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on August 23, 2005
Here's the real deal. The U.S. out-of-print "The Sting" DVD's are full screen. The U.S. September 6, 2005 "The Sting" DVD is cropped widescreen. I have watched both presentations, and BOTH ARE FINE. Neither presentation distracts from the FUN. If widescreen gives you a warm fuzzy feeling, get the new one. Purists will want the old full screen with no top/bottom picture loss. The dreaded "This film has been modified from its original version - It has been formatted to fit this screen." message on the 1998 full screen version is MISLEADING. The only "modification" is more picture at the top and more picture at the bottom than the widescreen theatrical release had. The director shot the film using 35 mm 4:3 open matte, but his bosses chose to crop the theatrical version. Oh, and note that this and all earlier reviews were written before the September 6, 2005 cropped widescreen version release date.
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on September 3, 2013
Director George Roy Hill had a hit with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1969, and four years later he brought the movie's two stars together again in The Sting. Paul Newman and Robert Redford had a natural chemistry that appealed to audiences, so the comedy adventure of western cowboy outlaws in the first decade of the 1900s was followed by the comedy adventure of eastern criminal grifters in the 1930s.

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.
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on June 29, 2006
The film is a classic, the restoration is beautiful, and the restored audio is excellent, with one inexplicable gaff. During a humorous dialog exchange, one of Redford's funniest lines is replaced with a sanitized-for-TV dub, which I had only ever heard on the broadcast version of the movie.

Original Dialog

Gondorf: Luther didn't tell me you had a big mouth.

Hooker: He didn't tell me you was a f**k-up, neither.

The perfect timing of the exchange is blown to bits by the dubbed in line, "He didn't tell me you was a screw-up, neither," which has neither the delivery nor the comic impact of Redford's original. Even if it meant getting the film re-rated, this movie deserved better treatment. Why a company would go the all the effort of restoring a classic, award-winning film, then leave in a clumsy, laugh-robbing dub like this, is a complete mystery to me.

Other than this one cringing moment, it's a true gem.
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on September 19, 2005
...I am a cinematography purist. I'm giving it 5 stars anyway, because this film is that good!

The 1998 DVD release of "The Sting" was not a "pan-and-scan" treatment -- as incorrectly stated (still!) in the listing for it -- but the whole, uncut film image, presented as intended by the director and cinematographer. George Roy Hill and Robert Surtees shot it as a 1.33:1 (4:3) film, and intended it to be seen in theaters that way. But the studio chickened out, thinking that people wouldn't want to see a 1.33:1 film 19 years after widescreen revolutionized the moviegoing experience in 1954, so they matted it into 1.85:1 widescreen and altered the cinematographer's craft and the director's intent. Not good!

I used to call myself a "widescreen fan," but what I have really always been is a "cinematography purist," or an "as the director intended" fan of filmed images. Virtually all "widescreen fans" of home video releases really are "cinematography purists" like me. Embrace yourself and your label, and embrace 4:3 if a film called for it!

Many 1.85:1 widescreen films are shot in 4:3, with the full intention by the director and cinematographer to matte them into 1.85:1 format for theatrical release. So they shoot scenes accordingly, not worrying too much about the very top and very bottom of the images in the camera eye, because they will be matted away. What is different here is that "The Sting" was meant to remain a 4:3 film in the theaters, and so was shot accordingly, with Surtees' full use of the 4:3 frame. If you matte it, you lose parts of the intended images, which detracts from the overall experience, and for some films this means ruin.

If you are a film fan, you want to see what the director intended you to see, don't you? All Universal had to do was explain on the back of the DVD box that the film is presented as the director and cinematographer wanted it shown. This makes us purists happy, and also happens to please the dwindling number of people who hate black bars at the top and bottom of the screen -- with all the TV shows and commercials done in widescreen these days, they are getting used to it!

All studios should explain director intent in a small paragraph on their video boxes, so that we who are not film historians can discover whether any particular full-screen DVD release is a pre-widescreen film, a horrible "pan-and-scan" butchery, or a 4:3 oddity in the widescreen world. (FYI, many films from the mid- to late-1950s were meant to be 4:3, because although widescreen films existed and wowed audiences from late 1953, it took some time for the studios and their theaters to convert over to [virtually] all widescreen releases.)

I wrote to Universal to ask them to provide this restored print edition in a 4:3 full-screen, un-matted release, but sadly they have no plans to do so. I guess I'll have to be content to remain faithful to my old copy until they see the light.

So I suppose there are now some widescreen TV junkies out there who hate all 4:3 films and TV shows because of the black bars at the left and right of the screen....
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on October 22, 2005
If you are a fan of "The Sting", purchasing this disc is a no-brainer. As for the arguement that this is not widescreen, I can only say that I have a 65inch widescreen television, and this picture fills the screen from top to bottom and side to side. The picture quality is exceptional. It has never looked better. The sound remix into 5.1 really adds to the experience of this wonderful music score. Extras are good, but the real reason for buying this disc is to experience the film in a way that has not been seen since its original theatrical presentation.

If you buy this disc, you will not be disappointed.
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on June 28, 2012
It was really no surprise when "The Sting" won the Academy Award for best picture of 1973. A great story with a wonderful twist ending and an unbeatable cast: Charles During, Ray Walton, Eileen Brennan, Harold Gould and headed by Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Robert Shaw. Most of all we have a film that accurately reproduces the atmosphere of the times in which it is set -- the Depression of the 1930s.
This is certainly one of the great films to come out of Hollywood.

Now we have this classic movie available in the Blu-ray format with great picture and sound. Being an audiophile of many years, I tend to notice the improvements in the audio first. Here, the title music has been remixed in stereo to provide a great improvement. The piano introduces the original Joplin theme and then the small orchestra comes in with great presence and power. The rhythmic nature of the music is notably enhanced by the power of the tuba, traditionally used in popular music of that time, although it is necessary to point out that ragtime music used exclusively in this film had long gone out of style by the 1930s. No matter -- it works perfectly here. The film uses sound stage interiors and sets, and beautiful sets they are depicting the Chicago Loop and buildings true to the time of the film and beautifully reproduced in Blu-ray clarity. For the sake of the one or two people in the world who haven't seen this movie, I won't go into the finish.

My favorite scene in this, and probably any other movie, is the conclusion of the poker game between Newman and Shaw on board the train to Chicago. Shaw has managed to sneak in a stacked deck ultimately dealing himself four nines and Newman four treys. He raises Newman's bet by $10,000 and, a little hesitant and slightly frowning, Newman sees the raise. Smiling, Shaw lays down his nines certain that he has won. Newman pauses for a second or two and then lays down his hand smiling and saying, "Four Jacks. You own me $10,000, pal." When I first saw this film in a theater, the audience was quiet for a few seconds until they realized what had happened. Then they began to howl with laughter. It's still the best played scene I've ever seen in a film. The expression on Shaw's face as he looks down at Newman's cards is unforgettable.

I doesn't matter how many times I've bought this movie in various formats, the Blu-ray is worth it -- I know I'll be watching it again.
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on March 24, 2003
THE STING gives us another example of the excitement Paul Newman and Robert Redford can generate when they work together. George Roy Hill who directed them in BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID duplicates his earlier feat with this highly acclaimed movie.
The story is about two confidence men who seek revenge and profit from the wily gangster who is responsible for the death of one of their buddies. Robert Shaw is superb as the East Coast mobster who is the target of the big con game being pulled off by Newman, Redford and their pals. The plot has enough twists to keep the viewer interested right up to the surprise ending.
THE STING won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Director (George Roy Hill), Original Story and Screenplay, Art Director, Adapted Scoring, Editing and Costume Design (Edith Head). Nominations were received for Best actor (Robert Redford), Cinematography and Sound.
The Oscar for Best Actor in 1973 went to Jack Lemmon for his performance in SAVE THE TIGER.
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on January 30, 2015
The Blu-ray version of this classic caper looks great*, but the wonderful Oscar-winning interpretation of Marvin Hamlisch's adaptation of Scott Joplins piano rags were futzed with. For instance, the number over the opening credits, "The Entertainer", had a very specific, old fashion sound in the theatre (on the previous DVD, release, as well)... and here the number is lifted from the soundtrack released on CDs (and back in the day: LPs and cassettes), which had a different sound. Beautiful music, of course, but that special STING sound that I'm certain director George Roy Hill wanted is now missing. This is also evident in "Pineapple Rag", the number we hear when Gondorff's right-hand men (J.J. Singleton, Kid Twist and Eddie Niles) are being gathered by Gondorff via the famous finger brushed aside the nose. The one featurette is fun, but the special features are lacking, here. For example, nobody talks about the beautiful artwork that bookends the film and headlines each "chapter" of the movie. Nor is there any mention of Albert Whitlock's wonderful matte paintings.

*Back to the look of the film on this Blu-ray edition, there is a moment early on when Johnny Hooker is walking with Eerie Kid after visiting Luther. The color of Hooker's suit is incorrect (it looks black when in reality it is rust-colored with stripes). Once Lt. Snyder drives up and attacks Hooker, though, the proper color has returned. I wonder what happened there!
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