Con movies are nothing new to Hollywood. Each has that character who thinks theyï¿½re on top of the world behind this bullet proof armor only to eventually realize that theyï¿½ve either been played or been watched the entire time. I suppose what makes con films work on the level they do is that these characters (admit it!) are all committing acts weï¿½d love to even THINK about committing. The only problem is that weï¿½re not even that badass of a person to even attempt it. Having never seen this film, I figured Iï¿½d get a fairly entertaining film with decent acting and an interesting enough plot. Boy was I mistaken about this one. Oscar awarded 1973 film The Sting has easily become my favorite con film.
Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) is a small-time con man from Joliet, Illinois. Hooker and his buddies Luther Coleman (Robert Earl Jones) and Joe Erie (Jack Kehoe) steal $11K from a victim without the victim ever knowing. After this huge success, Luther tells Johnny that he wants to retire from this gig of crime so he can move to Kansas City, Missouri. He tells Hooker to seek out his old friend named Henry Gondroff.
Now obviously no film can be successful without a little plot twist. Unfortunately for these three men, they didnï¿½t realize that the man they robbed was part of a bigger group (try the Chicago mob), specifically working for Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw). Hooker is told that they want their money back. Hooker does exactly what heï¿½s told only in a rather sneaking manner that eventually comes back to bit him in the butt. Not wanting to reveal the rest of the film, I will say that it has become evidently clear to myself that every successful con film since the release of this film has borrowed from this one.
As I mentioned above, every con film has borrowed from The Sting before. One can definitely understand after witnessing this remarkable film. Robert Redford and Robert Shaw were perfectly cast each becoming their own badass character that we canï¿½t help but love. In fact it has been quite sometime that Iï¿½ve witnessed a film that was this damn entertaining throughout. Each scene was expertly cast and directed almost as if each sequence was trying to outdo the previous sequence.
I single handedly blame myself for never having seen this gem. Films like The Score have always been high on my list of highly entertaining guilty pleasures. The Sting has basically thrown every successful con film off the cliff to their burning deaths. If anyone wants to see a simply fun film (regardless if the subject matter interests you), give this one a spin. I guarantee you wonï¿½t regret it.
The Sting is presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 1:85:1 Widescreen Aspect Ratio. I must say that Universal continues to impress with the transfers on their catalogue films.
Color usage was fine providing us with that sharp orange tint that the filmï¿½s original print had. Detail was decent with many scenes giving us fine detail but the next immediate scene suffering. Grain was obviously present (given the filmï¿½s age) but was kept in check thus never becoming a nuisance. Video Noise is not really present except in a few darker scenes and around the 42-minute mark. Iï¿½ll admit that I never really expect much from these older films, which is probably why I always like these transfers. No they donï¿½t contain the 3-D image that newer films boast, but they do look damn good for their age. Not as good as the recent Deer Hunter, but still good nonetheless.
There really isnï¿½t much to be said about the filmï¿½s audio. The provided Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 is nicely encoded with the standard 1.5mbps, but the problem is that nearly all the film is dialogue. This results in the audience never really getting any true sequence of surround activity.
Dialogue is the only real item of importance here. Luckily though dialogue is presented perfectly, never becoming muddled or hard to hear. When a film has this much dialogue, we all come to hope that we wonï¿½t have to play with the volume button (like I had to with Deer Hunter). No such problem here. Surround activity, as I mentioned above, is pretty much absent. I suppose one canï¿½t really expect much from an audio track of this nature.
- The Art of The Sting: This 90 minute documentary is broken down into the three following parts.
- The Perfect Script: This portion focuses on the script with interviews from Robert Redford, Paul Newman and screenwriter David Ward.
- Making a Masterpiece: This portion deals with how the cast and crew put together the infamous double-crossing sequence.
- The Legacy: This was easily the best of the three for myself as I liked the little memory clip they put together for Robert Shaw and Director George Roy Hill. Even though the actor may be best known for Jaws, his performance was fabulous in this one.
- Trailer: The filmï¿½s Theatrical Trailer is shown.
What a film! The Sting is the definition of film containing excellent acting, directing and story. This HD DVD release has good enough picture, decent audio and a few great features. I canï¿½t necessarily say that everyone who owns the recent ï¿½Legacy Editionï¿½ release of this should run out immediately and purchase this title. But I will say that for those in the world who havenï¿½t seen this one, pick this one up if you enjoy con films on the level I do.
Special Features List
- The Art of The Sting
- The Perfect Script
- Making a Masterpiece
- The Legacy