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The Sting (SE)
DVD disk
09.30.2005 By: Jason Adams
The Sting (SE) order
Director:
George Roy Hill

Actors:
Paul Newman
Robert Redford
Robert Shaw

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Johnny Hooker (Redford) is a con man trying to score big in 1930's Chicago. When his partner is brutally murdered, he teams up with seasoned pro Henry Gondorff (Newman) to get revenge. With crooked cops, gangster hitmen and federal agents on their tail, can the pair pull off the biggest sting of their career?

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.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
THE STING has something a lot of movies today are seriously lacking (aside from seven Oscars), and that is style. From the first frame to the last, it exudes hilarious fun, boatloads of cool, and some serious class. A lot of that has to do with the film's simplicity--not so much it's plot, which is more intricate than JoBlo's 7-layer nachos--but more so director George Roy Hill's direction. Hill takes his time to create a film that relies on visual flair and a great story, smart dialogue and developed characters. It's amazing how a couple of guys talking can be so entertaining, even without mindless action and flashy effects, ([cough] Michael Bay [cough]). That's not to say that THE STING doesn't have its share of excitement. There's plenty of police chases and back-alley showdowns, not to mention the titular big con itself, which keeps the tension amped up to eleven throughout the film.

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 EXTRAS
You know the drill...first disc is the movie itself, the second contains all the bonus features:

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.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
If you've never seen THE STING, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. Despite its age, it still packs one heck of a punch. As far as the DVD itself, the documentary is fantastic and a must see for fans of the film, but there isn't much else. (I'd cut off my arm for a Newman-Redford tag team commentary.) Altogether though, it's a classic movie that cinephiles should probably own, and this would be the DVD edition to add to your collection.
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