#88: The Sting (1973)

When and how did I watch this?

October 26th, 2016 on Netflix.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?

I read that it was another Redford/Newman film beforehand.  I watched a part of it and was bored/getting a cold/falling asleep.  I confess I wasn’t particularly eager to watch this one. I believe it won a handful of Oscars.

What do I know about it now?

Heist films are often convoluted, full of disposable characters and indiscernible plot lines, featuring caffeine-inspired dialogue to tell us everything we need to know in the shortest time possible.  We meander through hijinks and .  Finally, the heist arrives, and we’re relieved because five or so annoying characters end up dying anyway, and typically the good guys win and haul off the coveted goods with a smile. As for The Sting, we’re not subject to the high velocity screenplay (only used to hope the audience doesn’t notice mistakes) or forgettable characters (only used to kill off later for shock).  We’re treated to a carefully crafted plot, full of humor and surprises for sure, but not difficult to follow at all nor sloppy at any point.  We know the good guys win in the end, but, not unlike Ocean’s Eleven, we don’t know for sure if the boys are going to swing it,, or if they can do it without a hitch. Furthermore, the film never takes itself too seriously, though people do die in a few scenes, and the scary Lonnegan is always one step behind despite being deadly serious. Two suave protagonists can also become repetitive, but Hooker and Gondorff are distinct enough to make us like them individually rather than as a battery. A fun watch, yet incredibly well done as a film. The score is killer as well and can’t be overlooked.

What are some themes in the film?

Revenge, hustling

Did this affect me personally?

It was a huge laugh and a relieving break from some serious films.

Why is this ranked #88?

The star power of Redford and Newman is far-reaching, but it’s a better constructed film than Butch Cassidy, and it’s more memorable than most films.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She liked it a lot.

Would I watch it again?

This would be a great film to own.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

If you liked Oceans Eleven or any similar film, you won’t be disappointed with this at all. In fact, it might be an instant favorite.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

Of course. While it’s easy to dismiss it as a fool-around film (a la Pirates or Snatch), its greatness is justifiable by its crispness and delivery.  It contains the same levels of tension, character development, and fine details in score and cinematography that you’d expect out of great films. A movie like this is a surprising Oscar winner, but well-deserving of attention.

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