Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Sting (1973)

This is an imperfect-but-creditable movie. In 1936, con artist Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) steals $11,000 from a man who happens to be a courier for crime boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw). Lonnegan's men murder Hooker's partner, so he flees to Chicago. A con-man (Paul Newman) hiding out from the FBI, wins $15,000 from Lonnegan in a poker game. Hooker convinces the mob boss that he is going to take control of a horse betting post. The boss, thinking he has inside information, places a $500,000 bet on an unlikely horse expecting to bankrupt the betting parlor.

Newman and Redford had previously worked together in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The story was inspired by real-life con games documented in David Maurer's book The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man. Doyle Lonnegan's limp in the film, was in fact completely authentic as Shaw had slipped on a wet handball court at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The film won seven Academy Awards: Best Picture, Directing, Writing Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Film Editing and Best Music, Scoring Original Song Score and/or Adaptation. "The Entertainer" is a 1902 classic piano rag written by Scott Joplin and used as the film’s theme music.

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