Saturday, September 20, 2014
Retro Review: The Sting (1973)
The Film Doesn't 'Sting' Like A Bee, Nor Even A Wasp
One of a great film's key components is not just the story or even the acting, but the ending as well. The ending is usually when the biggest action takes place and if it fails, it can hurt the film significantly but if it succeeds, then it makes for a truly wonderful film. Fortunately, The Sting does the latter rather than the former.
The Sting follows the story of a grifter named Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) who is on the run and heads to Chicago to team up with an old former con man named Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman). Together, Hooker and Gondorff look to pull off a big con, or "sting", against a crime boss named Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) in order to win a fortune by staging a fake betting parlor for horse racing.
One thing that I really liked was the film's score by Scott Joplin and Marvin Hamlisch. I especially liked the film's opening theme that keeps playing in my head. I feel that the film's upbeat ragtime score is in sync with the 30's time period that the film is set in. It gives the film quite a bit of energy. Another thing I liked was the film's use of title cards before each chapter. I thought those gave the film a nice touch and of course fit the whole 30's era.
But one thing I liked about the story was how it takes its time to set up the big "sting". Slowly, we get to know the main characters and steadily watch then come up with their big plan. The reason that works so well is because by the end, when the "sting" takes place, it hits you like "wow". It's like lava slowly going up the pipe in a volcano, but in a good way. I also really liked the ending. I definitely don't want to give it away for those that haven't seen it, but I'll just say that in the end, it showed where the film's real comedy lies since the film is marketed as a comedy crime caper. But some of the scenes between Newman and Redford did make for some comedic relief as well. Other than that, I found that there were maybe one or two humanistic scenes that give the film not just drama but heart as well. That's why I thought this was a slightly better con film than, say, American Hustle. While Hustle was an entertaining, in-your-face romp, after repeated viewings, I thought the film's only depth and heart came from the actors which makes sense since that is more of an actor's movie than this is, but that's not the point.
Overall, The Sting is a dynamite crime caper filled with great storytelling, brilliant chemistry from Newman and Redford, and above all, heart. It doesn't take little time with its story yet doesn't go overboard and when the pay-off at the end happens, it hits you like "Wow".
Would I Recommend It?:
Definitely. I would say give it a rent because it is an essential classic and for those that follow the Oscars, won Best Picture. Plus, if you like Newman and Redford, put this high on your watch list.