I remember watching part of this movie with my grandfather when I was young boy. I had absolutely no idea what Robert Redford and Paul Newman were doing, I just knew that my grandfather was happy with whatever they had done. When I screened The Sting now, I am certainly not going to say that I understood everything this time around, but I will say that I had a better idea of what our two heroes were doing. In a nutshell, this is a film about revenge. When Redford’s partner is killed by nasty mob boss Doyle Lonnegan, he teams up with Paul Newman to get even. The “sting” they set up is so elaborate and working on so many levels, that it’s hard to know who is working with who, for who or why they are working at all.
In fact, the con is such a tightly put together setup, that the majority of this move is simply a build up to the final twist. While this might seem like something that’s hard to pull off, Director George Roy Hill does it deftly. In fact, as a viewer, I was so caught up in this world of fakery that just watching the process be put in place was enough action, tension, drama and suspense. In fact, the ending is merely just the culmination of all the events we have seen being put in play.
The Art of The Sting The Perfect Script
These two featurettes were very enjoyable to watch, mainly because they took us behind the scenes. We get to hear firsthand from people like Newman and Redford about the hands on, day to day process of creating this movie. Personally, I really enjoyed “The Perfect Script” featurette because there is something inherently interesting (to me anyway) about the process of getting a movie down on paper before a frame of film has been shot. This documents the how and why of how The Sting came into existence from just merely being an idea.
Making a Masterpiece and The Legacy: Director George Roy Hill
“Making A Masterpiece” seemed a bit redundant only because it is a behind the scenes piece that I watched after the other “behind the scenes” pieces. What saved this for me was that it focused on the actual “sting” that this entire film is centered around. We see the logistics of how it was put together, and that in itself could have been a feature film! “The Legacy” piece looks at the late George Roy Hill. He really directed some very important films that crossed over many generations. From Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Slap Shot to The World According to Garp. All of those movies are so different both in subject matter and tone, that I think that was his true legacy. He was able to make films that had no imprint other than being very well done.
Anamorphic Widescreen - 1.85:1. The look of this film is astonishing. When you realize that everything they achieved was before computers, then you can fully appreciate the grand scale that this movie was made on. I love the time that was captured. The look, the clothes, the cars, everything seems authentic. So much care went into making The Sting, and it’s nice to see that when the movie came to DVD, there was a great deal of care on that end as well. The DVD compression looks really good and this probably has something to do with the fact that the actual movie is on a disc all by itself.
English Dolby Digital 5.1; English DTS 5.1; English 2.0 Mono; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 and French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. This movie doesn’t have an amazing sound design, but I think that is because it is so much of a “character piece”. As it is mainly people talking, the only noises I really noticed were the ambient, everyday sounds that they use to give the movie a sense of reality. However, I have a sentimental streak for the song “The Entertainer” mainly because that was the first song I ever learned to play on piano. The audio for the entire film has a “light feel,” and as a result I think that allows viewers to feel okay about being “confused” as the “sting” is happening.
They have made a big deal about the packaging. It is in a hardcover case with a 1930s style drawing of Redford and Newman smiling on the cover. My only bone of contention is that the back part which has a large extras listing, a description of the film, a cast list and some technical specs ISN’T attached to the box. So my question is, what am I supposed to do with it after I take the DVD out of the shrink-wrap? The 2 discs that make up this set are each housed in a plastic tray, and behind them is a large picture of the card game from when the “sting” is first put in place.
One thing you will notice about this review is that I have to use Redford and Newman’s real names to talk about their characters. I do this because I am not 100% sure who is who (Newman is Gondorff but he’s also Shaw; Redford is Hooker but he’s also Kelly). A film like this is so strong from every front, that one wonders why they don’t make a movie like this today? There is such a solid relationship established between the characters, that as a viewer, I found myself really getting into them. I cared about these characters and that was where are all the action and the story was for me. The Sting is an example of a large budget, Hollywood movie being made right. It has all the bigness we expect and all the story elements and characterizations we need.
The Sting was a fantastic film to rediscover and one that I look forward to watching again and again.