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Winner of 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, The Sting stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford as two con men in 1930s Chicago. After a friend is killed by the mob, they try to get even by attempting to pull off the ultimate 'sting.' No one is to be trusted as the twists unfold, leading up to one of the greatest double-crossed in movie history. The con is on!

A movie review by: Kerry Douglas Dye
Stories about con games are a lot of fun. Like remember the episode of "Bosom Buddies" where Kip and Henry team up with Buffy and Hildy to fleece a man who's wronged . . . what's her name? You know--that blonde who married Aykroyd? Homer thought she was a reindeer?

Anyway, that was quality television. And The Sting is quality cinema. Before Mamet's House of Games deconstructed the genre and made it impossible to run a cinematic scam with a straight face, The Sting took us into the world of the big con and showed us the savvy, the moxie, and the bankroll required to run a no-nonsense scam.

This is the team of Butch and Sundance gathered and few years later. George Roy Hill directs. This time David S. Ward (who would later strike it big directing Major League) wrote the sharp screenplay. The year is 1936, and the place is Chicago. Robert Redford plays small-time short con artist Johnny Hooker, who has accidentally conned some money off of the mule of powerful gangster Doyle Lonnegan played by Robert Shaw(!) (Sorry for the weird punctuation, but my personal philosophy requires that that name always be written with an exclamation point.) Lonnegan has Hooker's partner killed, and now Hooker is seething for revenge.

Redford doesn't exactly do revenge like Mel Gibson. In fact, Hooker doesn't know a damn thing about killing anyone, so instead of murdering Lonnegan with a hatchet or something, he figures he'll get back at him in his own way: by conning him. But, crucially, Lonnegan can't know he's been conned--that's how Hooker plans to stay alive.

Hooker needs help. He seeks out legendary con artist Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman), who's drunk off his ass, in a sort of more respectable version of the lawyer Newman played in The Verdict. Eventually Gondorff agrees to help, he assembles some of his old buddies, and the con is on.

The first step is to take Lonnegan in a poker game. Lonnegan is a legendary poker player, and he cheats. But Gondorff can cheat better, and beats the gangster in a terrific game. But that's just to get his attention. Now Lonnegan is itching to get his money back plus some, and his new friend, who just happens to be Hooker in disguise, is there to help Lonnegan do it.

The big con involves the construction of an entire fake casino and the hiring of dozens of extras. Everything is planned meticulously, but things are complicated by the presence of a crooked cop (Charles Durning), and a bunch of Feds poking around. Can the boys pull off this delicate scheme? The movie keeps us wondering. It also keeps us feeling like we're in on the scam, until we realize that the professionals are just a couple of steps ahead of us. (I mean, in principle it keeps us guessing. Today's cynical audiences will see most of the plot twists coming a mile ahead.)

The Sting is a lot of fun. It won most of the big Oscars in '73, but don't let that discourage you. It's a pic worth seeing.


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