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Sherlock’s Classics: Film Review – The Sting (1973)

Article image for Sherlock’s Classics: Film Review – The Sting (1973)

Following the box-office smash ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ screen greats Paul Newman and Robert Redford were teamed for a second and final time in ‘The Sting.’   

This now classic comic Oscar winning gem of two lovable conmen in 1930’s Chicago out for revenge and a final big score is filled with laughs, thrills, excitement and a surprise or two.    

It’s hard to believe that this was never originally intended to be a re-teaming vehicle for Newman and Redford, which all came about by accident, and is explained by the two stars in a featurette on the making of the film on the DVD and Blu-ray.

Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Robert Shaw are right at the very top of their game, never better, as are an outstanding supporting cast that includes the wonderful Charles Durning (Dog Day Afternoon), Eileen Brennan (Murder by Death), Ray Walston (Paint Your Wagon, My Favourite Martian), and Harold Gould (The Front Page). 

Landmark screenplay by second time scribe David S. Ward (Major League) and brilliantly skilled direction by the tremendously gifted and hugely underrated George Roy Hill (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) bring it all together with seamless precision.     

Standout production design, period detail, costume and set design, and brilliant Scott Joplin ragtime score by Marvin Hamlish were rewarded with well-deserved Oscar wins for Best Picture, Art & Set Direction, Costume Design, Best Director, Film Editing, Music and Screenplay.

This is as good as it gets, nothing like it was made before and nothing like it since, though many have tried but have not even coming close.

‘The Sting’ is lightening in a bottle, a rich, intelligent, original and highly rewarding experience, one of those rare gems of exemplary movie-making and storytelling that makes it one of the most entertaining and fulfilling two plus hours you can have watching a movie!    

Stars: *****