The Sting
"The characters are outrageous and entertaining."

It has to be said that I didn't have particularly high hopes for this film. With the echoes of the Tromadance chant ringing in my ear every time I see Robert Redford, I thought this would be gruelling to get through. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised.

I was half expecting it to be a Seventies cop movie, with big hair and shades, when in fact it is set a few decades earlier than that and tells the story of a couple of con men attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of a big shot and make off with a quarter of a million green ones.

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It really kicks off after the title sequence and manages to draw you in rather well. The characters are outrageous and entertaining. It's all pretty believable in a ridiculous sort of way, because the film doesn't take itself too seriously. Paul Newman, pretending to be drunk at the poker table, is particularly amusing. Redford puts in an equally fine performance; it would seem that he's a master of the hat tap.

There are some truly great fades from one scene to the next, only slightly losing points for not utilising the star fade. And there's also a fair few extreme zoom-outs as well to keep you camera fanatics happy. The set and costumes look the biz, in a "this is a film" sort of way. The colours are a bit drab, however, which I presume reflects the era quite well.

There are plenty of plinky plonky chase scenes and it gets a little Mission Impossible at times, which is always a good thing. After a while, it starts to feel like it's beginning to drag. Then there's more talk of big cons, slanty hats and exciting camera work, and half an hour later it starts to drag again. I switched off a little towards the end and slightly lost the plot, which is why there isn't a detailed analysis here. I wasn't sure whether we were supposed to think that Newman was setting Redford up, or not, leaving me slightly confused, but I suppose it made the ending all the better.

This is an enjoyable, all American tale. If they'd knocked 40 minutes off the final cut, it would have scored higher.

Reviewed on: 07 Nov 2005
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Paul Newman and Robert Redford are itinerant con men during The Depression.
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Director: George Roy Hill

Writer: David S. Ward

Starring: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw, Charles Durning, Ray Walston, Eileen Brennan, Harold Gould

Year: 1973

Runtime: 129 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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