Robert Redford and Paul Newman reprise their partnership from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as two Chicago con-men brought together by the murder of a mutual friend. They plan revenge against the culprit, mob leader Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), who is himself a master conman. Their revenge is the only type they are capable of - a sting. To carry out the sting, they set up a fake gambling den in which the unexpected climax takes place. However, it's not only Lonnegan they have to deal with; they also have the police breathing down their necks. It's an elaborate and tightly plotted film, full of so many twists and turns that we are barely able to keep up with them on first viewing.
A film as much remembered for the design and music as the plot, few who watch it forget Redford's red suit or the recurring piano theme of 'The Entertainer'. A real example of how 'they don't make them like they used to'; likeable, loveable rogues get their revenge on the gangland boss through a combination of quick talking, a certain cheeky chappiness and their cunning and guile.
The movie swept the board at the Oscars, and has certainly stood the test of time, to the extent that almost every film or programme about con men, including recent examples like Confidence and the TV Show Hustle, are inevitably and unfavourably compared to it. It's best not to talk about the disappointing and frankly pointless sequel ten years later or these pale imitators.
Many characters are seen drinking Schlitz beer during the film. Schlitz was the largest beer company in the world during the 1930s.
Robert Shaw injured his ankle and incorporated the resulting limp into his performance.
The movie is based on the real-life exploits of grifter brothers Charley and Fred Gondorf, whose experiences culminated in a scam similar to the one shown in the film, known in 1914 as "the wire" or "the big store". Unlike the movie, however, the actual "mark" was more than happy to testify against Charley Gondorf, the front man of the scam, and he spent time in Sing Sing, as did his younger brother a year later for running another scam. Both served a few years and were released. As late as 1924, when Charley was 65 and Fred 60, they were still active, and running new scams.
The meaning and relevance of a "Sting" is that it can be defined as a confidence trick, a scam, confidence game or a con. The use of the word sting to mean this is a metaphor based on the hurt or pain of a bee sting doubling for that of being a victim of a swindle.
Doyle Lonnegan: What was I supposed to do - call him for cheating better than me, in front of the others?
Johnny Hooker: Luther said I could learn some things from you. I already know how to drink.
Johnny Hooker: He's not as tough as he thinks.
Henry Gondorff: Neither are we.
Henry Gondorff: You have to keep this con even after you take his money. He can't know you took him.
FBI Agent Polk: Sit down and shut up, will ya? Try not to live up to all my expectations.
Louise Coleman: If I didn't know you better, I'd swear you had some class!
GOOFS AND BLUNDERS
Just before hooker meets Billie, the camera crew is reflected in a passing vehicle.
When Cole chases Hooker into the dead-end alley and is subsequently killed by Salino, the trigger for the squib can be seen in the actor's left hand. You can also see how he uses his thumb to operate it.
In the scene where Salino is killed, as the gloved man runs toward Hooker, someone appears on a rooftop in the background and witnesses the murder scene.
It's one of cinema's most beloved heist movies, and for good reason: The Sting is balls-out fun from start to finish, a showstopper work for both Robert Redford and Paul Newman, and alternately funny and thrilling. Reviewed by: contactmusic.com
Viewing The Sting is cinematic enjoyment at its purest - the empathy that Newman and Redford have for each other, and the way in which this spreads to the entire cast, energises the entire film. Evoking the classic Hollywood gangster movies, each character displays certain mannerisms and methods of speech which whisk us right into the middle of the Depression. Reviewed by: Damian Cannon of Movie Reviews.
The Sting looks and sounds like a musical comedy from which the songs have been removed, leaving only a background score of old-fashioned, toe-tapping piano rags that as easily evoke the pre-World War I teens as the nineteen-thirties. Reviewed by: Vincent Canby of the New York Times.