Winner of the 1973 Best Picture (and six other Oscars), seeing The Sting once more in 2021 just doesn’t feel right. Teaming up again, after the remarkable Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, (with a much more “permanent ending”), Paul Newman and Robert Redford continue to “fit like a glove” as they ply their considerable con men schemes—particularly on Doyle Lonnegan who gets a finely nasty performance from Robert Shaw.
The stellar supporting cast, including journeyman Ray Walston, Eileen Brennan as a “doll” and Robert Earl Jones as the luckless Luther Coleman, dutifully support the principals and are aided by George Roy Hill’s knowing direction, the film moves steadily forward to one of the best climaxes of its time.
The problem today is that just having endured the worst presidency ever, and the con-man-in-chief still waiting for his comeuppance (like Capone, it will be the taxes that will match his hair to his jumpsuit), the make-believe film losses its inherent sense of fun, knowing that the current state of the “land of the brave and home of the free” is the laughing stock of much of the world with no “end” in sight.
Still, the quality of the filmmaking can’t be denied: Scott Joplin’s ragtime music (artfully arranged by Marvin Hamlisch) is the musical icing on this sleight-of-hand cake. JWR