From the moments I hear the opening bars of Scott Joplin’s ‘The Entertainer’ I remember why I like ‘The Sting’ so much: there are films that make you think, there are films that are beautiful works of art and then there are films that are just fun.
‘The Sting’ reunited the irresistible combination of Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and I actually prefer this to ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’. This great film is a comedy crime caper set in the 1920s and is about a small time con-man played by Redford, who after his partner in crime gets killed, teams up with Newman a one time master to seek revenge. The film takes the characters through a wild and elaborate scam in order to settle the score, with the sting being the twist at the end.
Newman and Redford have such chemistry in this film. They play their parts with ease and humour and build great rapport over the duration of the film. I mentioned the relationship between the leads in ‘The French Connection’, and this relationship is even better.
It’s a brilliant example of storytelling. The film moves along at such a rate of knots that it is impossible not to be swept along – there are some wonderful moments: the card game, when Redford asks out a drugstore girl, and of course, the final scene. It is difficult to discuss the film without giving too much away, but in terms of plot, let’s just say that it is fun from start from finish.
The style of the film is also interesting and appealing. It’s a comedy, but also a period drama and is full of wonderful details, like the fact that each section of the film is introduced with titles. The film also could run the risk of over glorifying criminals, but instead it ends up painting a picture of crime in New York at a certain era. The characters are not responsible for destroying law and order, but are rather products of a certain era.
In short it is a wonderful and fun picture that uses many stylistic techniques complete with wonderful direction and great acting to create one of the most memorable films of the 1970s.