Find me a better combination of script, cast, direction, score, art direction and costume and I guarantee it’ll take you some time and effort.
“The Sting,” directed by George Roy Hill and written by David Ward, is the kind of movie where you uncover something new every time you watch it. It’s because the film is all in the minute details to assemble the beginning to the middle to the end. The film is wisely edited in step by step chapters; The Set Up, The Wire, The Shut Out and eventually on to the satisfying The Sting.
The audience is even set up but you’ll have to watch to see how. I dare not spoil it.
Cars, trains, drug stores, diners, a carousel, dames, gangsters, Bunko Cops, Grifters; all are elements needed for the best confidence men superbly played by Robert Redford and Paul Newman, along with a supporting cast like no other, Eileen Brennan, Harold Gould, Charles Durning, Ray Walston, Jack Kehoe and the best villain, or rather “mark,” Robert Shaw.
This is one of my favorite movies. When I first saw it, I was probably age 10 or 12. I understand next to nothing of what was going on. It was the music that drew me in first followed by the sharp suits designed by the legendary Edith Head. The movie’s script is its greatest asset but visually it is just as fun. The 1930s Chicago setting is a character in and of itself. Newman cheats beautifully at poker against a temperamental Shaw, and gets him!!! “You owe me 15 grand pal.” When I first saw it, I didn’t know what he was doing or how he did it. How did he switch hands? I was enamored with the hands that were dealt and the poker chips on the table, but I loved it when the better cheat won out.
The second iteration of the Hill/Newman/Redford trifecta (following “Butch…& Sundance…”) is just plain fun. It was the fun that earned it a Best Picture Oscar.
No other film has come close to duplicating it. Maybe the Clooney/Pitt/Damon version of “Ocean’s 11”? I don’t know. However, if you love that film, you owe it to yourself to watch “The Sting.”
“The Sting” is…”the quill!”