Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

The Sting (1973) – Classic Review

ImageJohnny Hooker (Robert Redford) is con-artist, a tactical, cool, calm and somewhat brash individual.

Crime, corruption and revenge set the tone for “The Sting”, a formal vision of 1930’s Chicago that tells the story of Hooker and partner Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) setting out to execute an intricate, thorough and delicate heist on unscrupulous gangster Doyle Lonnegan.


The pursuit of Lonnegan follows the death of Hooker’s partner Luther Coleman (Robert Earl Jones) after he and Hooker unknowingly con one of Lonnegan’s men.

Hooker is not a violent man, nor does he often display acts of physicality, his deceptiveness and trickery are his fists of fury. Having said that, “The Sting” is fairly violent in it’s frequent shoot-out’s and fights.

As it is based solely around themes of murder, revenge, deception and greed, characters in “The Sting” are difficult to trust. Paul Newman’s Gondorff has a cheeky and elegant smile on his face most of the time, yet those eyes and the overall look of the big-time con isn’t comforting or reassuring in any way. He is constantly under the suspicion of betrayal and faithlessness.


The performances are fantastic all over, from Redford’s young and handsome Hooker with a somewhat utopian state of mind, Newman’s experienced, level-headed mentor Gondorff to Robert Shaw’s Lonnegan, a vicious, luring, mega-rich crime boss who’s fearsome look with menacing eyes are intimidating to say the least.

The essence of 1930’s Chicago is captured well in “The Sting”, attention to detail like wardrobe choices, setting and props add to the realism of the film.

At first, “The Sting” appears to be a Noir, in that it depicts the protagonist’s rise in wealth and success only to heavily focus on his downfall into nothingness; however “The Sting” does not go that way, it ultimately is an “anti-noir” in many senses. The rich colour pallet of the film, the upbeat atmosphere, the clarity of scenery and the jolly score of Scott Joplin’s ragtime tunes are anything but traits of Film Noir.

The clever use of technical alterations in the post-production like scene transition filters adds a new and exciting feature to the film. With “The Sting” playing out like a stage production or a book for that matter with chapters or acts, the effects used like a page turning or the screen flipping within a scene change adds to the story in its own clever and unique way.


This sophisticated mystery thriller is eloquent and smart in its portrayal. The performances are rich and so are characters, in more ways than one.The detailed and meticulous caper is exciting and intriguing, with attention to detail being a necessity.

Good, honest and solid characters with a strong premise, “The Sting” is cleverly executed and surprisingly delightful.



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This entry was posted on March 6, 2014 by in Classic Reviews and tagged , , , .
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