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The Sting (25-Dec-1973)

Director: George Roy Hill

Writer: David S. Ward

Music Adapted by: Marvin Hamlisch

Producers: Tony Bill; Michael Phillips; Julia Phillips

Keywords: Crime/Comedy, Poker, Con Artists

Two grifters from Joliet, Johnny Hooker and Luther Coleman, inadvertently run a scam on one of Doyle Lonnegan numbers runners, garnering $11,000, for which Lonnegan has Luther killed. For revenge, Hooker enlists the help of legendary confidence man Henry Gondorff, in an elaborate caper to free Lonnegan from whatever burden $500,000 might be causing him. Won 7 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Score; nominated for 3 others including Robert Redford for Best Actor.

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NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Billy Benedict
16-Apr-1917 25-Nov-1999 Whitey in The Bowery Boys films
Eileen Brennan
3-Sep-1932 28-Jul-2013 Capt. Lewis in Private Benjamin
Charles Durning
28-Feb-1923 24-Dec-2012 The Muppet Movie
Dana Elcar
10-Oct-1927 6-Jun-2005 Pete Thornton on MacGyver
Harold Gould
10-Dec-1923 11-Sep-2010 Martin Morganstern on Rhoda
Sally Kirkland
31-Oct-1944   Jeanette in ED TV
Paul Newman
26-Jan-1925 26-Sep-2008 Salad dressing magnate
John Quade
1-Apr-1938 9-Aug-2009 Every Which Way But Loose
Robert Redford
18-Aug-1936   The Sundance Kid
Robert Shaw
9-Aug-1927 28-Aug-1978 Quint in Jaws
Ray Walston
2-Dec-1914 1-Jan-2001 My Favorite Martian


Paul Newman   ...   Henry Gondorff
Robert Redford   ...   Johnny Hooker
Robert Shaw   ...   Doyle Lonnegan
Charles Durning   ...   Lt. Wm. Snyder
Ray Walston   ...   J. J. Singleton
Eileen Brennan   ...   Billie
Harold Gould   ...   Kid Twist
John Heffernan   ...   Eddie Niles
Dana Elcar   ...   FBI Agent Polk
Jack Kehoe   ...   Erie Kid
Dimitra Arliss   ...   Loretta
Robert Earl Jones   ...   Luther Coleman
James J. Sloyan   ...   Mottola
Charles Dierkop   ...   Floyd (Bodyguard)
Lee Paul   ...   Bodyguard
Sally Kirkland   ...   Crystal
Avon Long   ...   Benny Garfield
Arch Johnson   ...   Combs
Ed Bakey   ...   Granger
Brad Sullivan   ...   Cole
John Quade   ...   Riley
Larry D. Mann   ...   Train Conductor
Leonard Barr   ...   Burlesque House Comedian
Paulene Myers   ...   Alva Coleman
Joe Tornatore   ...   Black Gloved Gunman
Jack Collins   ...   Duke Boudreau
Tom Spratley   ...   Curly Jackson
Kenneth O'Brien   ...   Greer
Ken Sansom   ...   Western Union Executive
Ta-Tanisha   ...   Louise Coleman
Billy Benedict   ...   Roulette Dealer


Review by Walter Frith (posted on 7-Jun-2007)

Director George Roy Hill's 'The Sting' from 1973 is a curious comparison picture. A comparison picture that pits it against another Robert Redford/Paul Newman film, 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' from 1969. Both films are outstanding entertainment but are polarizing genres. And in the eyes of many, are like mixing apples and oranges. The depression era crime story against the old west cowboy story. But both films share a similar theme, the fact that they were both ground breaking in setting a new tone as they were both comedies from a seemingly realistic point of view. 'Butch Cassidy' writer William Goldman said that he couldn't bring himself to write John Wayne dialogue and while 'Butch Cassidy' is based on a true story, 'The Sting' is purely fictional. Again, in comparison to the stereotype we are all used to in many gangster pictures from the 1930s and 40s, 'The Sting' is strikingly different because it is extremely lightweight and feels more like tasting an addictive candy as the pay off is so sweet, you want more and it's one of those films that I've seen where I didn't want it to end. My preference between the two films is for 'The Sting' because I believe it reflects a more diversified study of characters and has a clearly defined villain. While the American old west is a long forgotten time and place among many in society, poverty and hardship still continue to affect millions as we are settled well into the 21st century. Taking place in Illinois, during the depression era 1930s, 'The Sting' shows us things that do not justify crime and con but rather make you understand why it was so rampant and continues to be so in this day and age. In other words, it is a timeless story that will be enjoyed for generations to come. Steven Spielberg called that generation, which stretched into World War II, the "greatest generation" among the living today. I really liked the fact that 'The Sting' is a rather intimate portrayal of crime. It doesn't have panoramic shots. It's photography is closely netted and as a tightly shot masterpiece, it has as much suspense as it does laughs and action. Robert Redford stars as Johnny Hooker, a small time con artist who plays for small time change and remains loyal to his mentor Luther Coleman (Robert Earl Jones). They play a con on a member of a powerful syndicate whose boss is Doyle Lonnigan (Robert Shaw). Not realizing what they've done, they are informed of their mistake and Hooker spends most of the movie on the run from Lonnigan's gang wile trying to pay him back for an injustice at the same time. Hooker teams up with an old friend of Luther's named Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman). Gondorff himself is on the run from the FBI for trying to con a senator on a stock deal. The two of them team up with a gang of other lightweight con artists to put the big squeeze on Lonnigan but one problem remains, conning him without him knowing it. The chemistry between Redford and Newman is perhaps the best between any two male characters in movie history. They are both terrific as a team and as individual performers in the film. What works for the film most is the ragtime score originated around 1910 by master musician Scott Joplin and his score is adapted by Marvin Hamlisch who won an Oscar for his work. Although set in the 1930s, the film uses a score two decades before its time and it works. No one knows why, but it DOES work! 'The Sting' won six other Oscars, film editing, art direction, costume design, director, screenplay and best picture of the year; beating out films such as 'American Graffiti' and 'The Exorcist'. George Roy Hill has now passed away. He died in December of 2002 after suffering complications from Parkinson's disease and in his 81 years he made only 14 films. In his case it was quality over quantity that mattered. Robert Shaw, who passed away in 1978 at the age of 51 from a heart attack while changing a tire on an Irish countryside road, is one of film history's most complete villains. A man who is all business minded and will kill anyone who steals even the smallest scraps from him. Paul Newman and Robert Redford have stated to this day that they both would do another film if the right material was presented for them and while 1973's 'The Sting' celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, it is a film that shows us a time and place that we could easily return to. [Visit Film Follow-Up by Walter Frith]

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