The Sting

My Blind Spot for July. George Roy Hill’s con-men caper requires little in the way of introduction, having won seven of its ten Academy Awards nominations in 1974, including Best Picture and Best Director. It also earned a hefty $160m at the box office, the largest amount that year (The Exorcist was second and American Graffiti third) which means it’s surprising that when people discuss the Robert Redford and Paul Newman movie they’re probably referring to Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. Anyway, both the stars are on great form here, particularly Redford as small-time grifter Hooker, who unknowingly rips off Robert Shaw’s Oirish mob boss Doyle Lonergan and finds himself in very deep, very hot water as a result. There’s plenty of humour as Hooker teams up with Newman’s legendary con man Gondorff (and many others), the pair setting out to take even more money from the gangster while also paying him back for an earlier murder, and yet there’s a cold, brutal edge to the movie too, with comic chase scenes (soundtracked by Scott Joplin) and the like often giving way to moments of quick, nasty violence. There are entertaining performances all round, including Robert Earl Jones (father of James), Eileen Brennan and Charles Durning, but the real joy is in the plot, which includes several twists and turns and will keep most people guessing the outcome until the very end. Lots of fun, a terrific script, lovely attention to period detail and splendid cinematography by Robert Surtees, too. (*****)