60/60 Extra: The Sting.

After I watched Butch Cassidy, I got quite a few recommendations to watch The Sting, another Newman-Redford pairing. Well, with it being labeled a comedy, and this being comedy month, I thought it a perfect time to check it out. And to top it all off, it's a con artist film, which are way up there with heist films (because they're essentially the same idea)... and I love those.

This one is about Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford), a rookie con man looking for revenge after a close friend and partner is killed. He seeks out Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman), a skilled grifter who used to work with the man that had been killed. Together they plan on pulling the perfect job, one to get some revenge and quite a bit of money off Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw). Helping out are other grifters like J.J. (Ray Walston) and Twist (Harold Gould). But they have to stay careful, as a detective named Snyder (Charles Durning) is after Hooker, too.

I'd like to say straight-up that, while I was told the chemistry between the two leads was even stronger in this film, I have to disagree. I felt their bond was stronger in Butch Cassidy. However, I'm not saying that's a negative or a detractor from this film at all. The acting was still very strong in this film. Though I think it's particularly funny that, in the aforementioned western, Newman was the good looking charmer and Redford was the gruffer one. Here, they've switched that around. Redford is the charmer, and Newman is much more gruff.

I really liked how the whole film was edited into chapters like a book. Every section told its own part of the job, letting the audience know what was happening, step-by-step. I just thought that was a fun and creative way to organize the film.

The tone of the film kind of bounces between lighter fair (as it is labeled a comedy) and some darker bits that involve hitmen and death and all sorts of stuff. It really worked, keeping you on your toes. It was never something like an Oceans film, where you knew it was all part of the job and they would somehow come out on top. There was this more gritty element that really left you feeling uncomfortable in the sense that anything could really go wrong... but what if this is all part of the plan? That's something I loved about the movie. It kept me guessing.

The job itself was very layered, giving us multiple steps to get through to get it done. Like I said before, it was hard to figure out if what was going on was true or just part of the scam. There were double and even triple crosses going on. And although I know nothing about racetrack betting (which the scam centers around), I was easily able to follow the film, as the job wasn't so much about the details of the horse races as it was the scam itself. It allowed me to follow along easily.

Before I start sounding redundant, I'm just gonna end it there. I've seen plenty of heist and/or con artist films, but this one was damn near perfect. The acting is great. The story is great. The job itself is great. The way the film is edited together is great. There are plenty of nice twists and turns. And, of course, the final payoff makes it all worth it. This was such a fantastic film, and I'm so glad it was recommended to me.

Rating System.
Royale With Cheese


  1. I agree with your excellent review!
    I loved this film as well, I think it is the best Newman/Redford film and easily one of the best Heist films ever, much better than the mediocre Oceans, in my opinion.
    I also thought Robert Shaw was fantastic in this.

    I look forward to reading more of your reviews!

  2. I liked this one a lot. I though the storytelling was a bit to segmented and straightforward, but it was still really good. I think Newman and Redford were better in Butch Cassidy as well. We could do with more con films like this.

  3. Great review. One of my 10 favorite films of all time. The Redford-Newman dynamic is outstanding and I think you're right, it's almost their lack of comfort with each other (as opposed to their near intimacy in "Butch Cassidy") that makes it special.

  4. Yay! So glad you saw this one too. Doesn't it make you want more of the two of them? I love the twists and turns of the plot, but you're right, it's not terribly hard to follow.

  5. Robert Shaw was indeed a great villain. You've seen Jaws, right?

    I enjoyed The Sting. Not as much as Butch, but it's got its own charms. I really dug the nitty-gritty parts of the sting and how they built this set and employed this cast of grifters to push it through. If there was one thing that bugged me, though, it's that I never bought the peril that Redford's character was supposed to be in. It seemed too fleeting and that he was never all that concerned with it.

  6. Oh yeah, I've seen Jaws (I actually own it). I don't like going to the beach.


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