The Sting (1973)

9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking, good cast, smart story

Has little replay value

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Sting

Studio:  Universal Pictures

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  December 25, 1973

MPAA Rating:  PG

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This is the best day ever! Nothing bad can ever happen!

Kelly Hooker (Robert Redford) is a small time grifter who makes a big score with the help of his mentor and partner Luther Coleman (Robert Earl Jones).  Unfortunately, Kelly and Luther have ripped off mob money, and Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) has Luther killed as a result.  Now, Kelly is out for revenge and out to pull off a long con that could net more than he’s ever made.  With veteran con artist Shaw Gondorff (Paul Newman) to help guide him, Kelly is planning to sting Lonnegan, but his past involving Lt. William Snyder (Charles Durning) and FBI agent Polk (Dana Elcar) threatens to ruin the whole plan before the con is done.


This is fun guys…we should ride around town more often!

Directed by George Roy Hill, The Sting is loosely based on the lives of Fred and Charley Gondorff whose story was told in 1940 non-fiction book The Big Con:  The Story of the Confidence Man by David Maurer.  The film was a critical success and won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Song Score and/or Adaptation with nominations for Best Actor (Redford), Best Cinematography, and Best Sound.

I’ve seen The Sting before and decided to revisit it because I was curious how it would go.  The movie is based on a trick ending and once you know the ending, it runs the risk of playing its hand for replay value…and it does somewhat.


I will destroy you with my crystal blue eyes!!!

The Sting is a smartly written story.  The dialogue is clever and the actual planning of “the sting” is fun and tense.  Though a drama with a lot of moments that are dark, the movie still has a sense of humor to it.  It feels a lot like the tone of something like the remake of Ocean’s 11 or The Usual Suspects.

Part of the movie’s charm comes from the continuing great interaction between Robert Redford and Paul Newman.  Redford and Newman both starred in (the superior) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1969 and it is good to see them reteamed here.  They have their timing down perfect and backed by a great supporting cast.

Robert Shaw proves his depth as an actor as the mob boss Doyle Lonnegan and if you don’t believe it, check out the character change for him playing Quint in Jaws.  The movie also features roles by Charles Durning, Eileen Brennan, Dana Elcar, and Robert Earl Jones who looks (and sounds) much like his son James Earl Jones.


I’m gonna git you!

The movie has a classic look.  It has an old cinema style applied to it and even uses title cards.  You add to that the old style film and the memorable use of “The Entertainer” and you have what really does feel like a trip to the old cinema (talking however of course).  It also has a bit of the fun and charm.

The Sting is a tricky movie.  It is a good movie but much of the movie hinges on the twist which makes it one of those movies that isn’t a movie you can watch over and over again.  Knowing the twist, I found myself watching for tells to see when the characters were lying.  I don’t know that I saw any and that is a problem because there should be some despite the deception…I want a layered movie.  The Sting is a great movie but only really great once.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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