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Films to See Before You Die: #8 The Sting

the sting

The Sting (1973)

Director: George Roy Hill

Cast: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw, Robert Earl Jones

Synopsis: Luther Coleman (Robert Earl Jones), his apprentice Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford), and their underling Joe Erie’s latest swindle has netted them $11,000, enough for an aged Luther to contemplate retiring from grifting. They are unaware however that that money belonged to ruthless racketeer Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), whose thugs kill Luther in retaliation. Before Luther’s death, he suggested to Hooker that he contact Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman), his old friend in Chicago to learn the art of the big con. Hooker does contact Gondorff, who has retired after being burned in his last big con. Gondorff decides to come out of retirement solely to help Hooker get back at Lonnegan for Luther’s murder. In pulling off the big con, Gondorff and Hooker require the assistance of a number of Gondorff’s old associates as well as a number of small time grifters. In the latter group includes Erie, who wants to do his small part in revenging Luther’s death. Beyond Lonnegan or anyone else finding out about the con, there are many potential obstacles in pulling off the sting, such as a controlling and overly cautious Lonnegan wanting to do things his own way, and a number of people chasing after Hooker, including a crooked Joliet vice cop named Snyder, Lonnegan’s lower level thugs and a hired hit man. Through the process, Hooker, who sees himself as being a wheeler dealer, may come across a better deal than that provided to him by Gondorff.

Trivia: Robert Shaw injured his knee and incorporated the resulting limp into his performance. According to “You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again” by Julia Phillips, Shaw split all the ligaments in his knee after slipping on a wet handball court at the Beverly Hills Hotel a week before filming started. He had to wear a leg brace during production which was kept hidden under the wide 1930s style trousers he wore. Technical advisor John Scarne doubled for Paul Newman’s hands in the film. It was he who did all of the card manipulations and deck switching in the film. It would have taken a long time for someone to be able to master all of the card routines shown. In the film, we see Scarne’s hands disappear off screen; a clever invisible cut hides the switch; Newman’s hands return, and the camera pans up to his face.

Why I think you should see this: I recently revisited this film after not watching it for a few years and I have to say this was the most fun I have had watching a movie in years. It is quite possible that there is no better acting combination than Paul Newman and Robert Redford who are magnificent in their roles. Robert Shaw was incredible as Doyle Lonnegan, I am not as familiar with him as I am other actors but I am excited to see some of his other movies. This movie has the best double -cross in movie history and requires multiple views just because you might have missed something the first time around. This is one of the best films I have ever seen so check it out sometime.

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About Trevor

Hi my name is Trevor and this is my blog! Films are a passion of mine. I am a total film geek. I own over 700 films and the collection is ever growing. I studied Film Studies and Scriptwriting in College. What I have learned about films is mostly self taught.

4 responses to “Films to See Before You Die: #8 The Sting

  1. noa834 ⋅

    We got a chance to tape this on the DVR recently. Gonna watch it tonight!

  2. foodyrach

    One of my absolute favorites! Ultimate revenge movie…plus, Robert Redford was quite the fox.

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