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The Sting

George Roy Hill

The Sting
In The Sting, the audience revels in being in on the con as two grifters — one small-time youngster looking for bigger game (Robert Redford) and a down-on-his-luck one-time big shot (Paul Newman) — take on a prominent Chicago gangster (Robert Shaw) through an elaborate betting scheme called "the wire." But what's delicious about The Sting is that, through its intricate plotting and careful reveals, the audience is also themselves being conned; we get to enjoy the thrill of being taken for a ride without losing shirts and wallets in the process. As one of the first — and the best — films to ever feature confidence men (so named because the "mark" must have the utmost confidence that they're on the level), The Sting, a 1930s period piece released in 1973, unveiled a world previously unseen in cinema houses. Now of course such elegant gamesmanship is common, from The Grifters to The Usual Suspects; rarely is it done with the panache and delight found here. Director George Roy Hill has it made easy for him by the team of Redford and Newman; he had already exploited their chemistry to great success in 1969's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The apparently delightful experience making the movie is reflected on this Legacy Series two-disc issue in an hour's worth of featurettes that include both principles (Hill died in 2002); Newman in particular shares a delightful anecdote involving eight dollars worth of booze, a saw and the director's desk. Other than that, what's left is a beautifully restored print of this Best Picture Oscar winner, replacing the full-screen version released earlier this year. It's a remarkable film worth looking at again for the delight it takes in unfolding a tale that teases and tantalises viewers with the sheer joy of its storytelling. (Universal)
(In The Paint)
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