George Roy Hill
Throw in plenty of flashy suits, smooth talkin' and enough plot twists to make M. Night Shyamalan choke on his donut, and you've got yourself one of the best movies of the 1970's.
Of course THE STING is remembered most for its headlining duo, and this is Paul Newman and Robert Redford at the top of their game (before all the salad dressing and leathered-face shenanigans). They're both undoubtedly great actors, but it's obvious that they're just plain having fun with these roles, which makes all the difference. When Johnny has to sober up Gondorff in the bathtub, I can't imagine any other actors pulling off their quick-draw banter with as great a chemistry. Which brings me to my only nitpick with the movie--we need more Paul Newman! For being the top billed star, he came off as more of a supporting character. He rocks the audience's pants off in the poker scene midway through the movie, only to be utterly wasted in the second half. If you have Cool Hand Luke, use him!
Lastly, I'd be remiss (and have my movie reviewing license taken away) if I didn't mention the outstanding supporting cast, especially a scene-stealing Robert Shaw, and the fantastic Scott Joplin/Marvin Hamlsich ragtime score, which is one of the best combinations of music and celluloid ever.
The Art of the Sting: A pretty thorough, hour-long documentary broken in to three sections:
- The Perfect Script (23:16): Screenwriter David Ward gives the lowdown on coming up with the idea for the movie, as well as researching and writing the script (which was his first). Also, members of the cast and crew reminisce about the early stages of getting the film started. Newman still comes across as one class act.
- Making A Masterpiece (22:56): What it sounds like--the cast and crew talk about shooting the movie. Lots of interesting insight and funny stories about some of the most famous scenes, including the poker game and the showdown with Salino.
- The Legacy (10:04): Not only is it a look back at how the THE STING has held up over the years, but it's also a lament on how Hollywood has lost the classic style of filmmaking. Most of the cast offer their thoughts on working with George Roy Hill, and it's a shame that Hill passed away in 2002, since everyone speaks so highly of him and his strengths as a director. My favorite part is Paul Newman's scathing attack on Hollywood's use of focus groups and audience testing, instead of sticking to a director's convictions. What would happen if they had tested THE STING? "George Roy Hill would have their heads."
Theatrical Trailer (2:13): I loved it. Done like one of those old-style trailers, complete with the 1930's Universal logo and throat-cancery narrator telling you directly about the film. Yet, through some magic or tomfoolery, it doesn't give away the whole movie.( Imagine that!)
Production Notes: Summary of the making of the film, its actors, and its success. Nothing too special.
In addition, we also get subtitles to all the special features! Seriously, that's it? I could've sworn it said Legacy Series and not Lame-ass Series.