The Sting (1973)

Paul Newman and Robert Redford are perfectly teamed as grifter partners in this multi-Oscar-winning shaggy-dog story of an epic con.

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“The Sting is for people – and no doubt there are quantities of them – who like crooks as sweeties.”
Pauline Kael, The New Yorker, 1973

Elegantly plotted, with a string of surprises and reversals all the way to a last, satisfying emotional punch, David S. Ward’s great wisecrack of a script is populated by characters straight out of Damon Runyon, though the darkness around them – the murder of a friend, especially, that sets the story in motion – is never romanticised.

Robert Shaw pulls out all the stops to play the pantomime villain Doyle Lonnegan, squared off in a battle of wits against the charisma of Paul Newman’s on-the-skids confidence trickster Henry Gondorff and Robert Redford’s sorcerer’s apprentice Johnny Hooker.

The score famously resurrected and popularised Scott Joplin’s turn-of-the-century ragtime piano music, which would have been well out of date by the film’s 1930s setting, but worked a treat nonetheless.

The teaming of director George Roy Hill with stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford built on the success of their earlier collaboration Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).

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