Wednesday, December 1, 2010

1973: The Sting

Johnny Hooker is a small-time con artist who accidentally cons a man working for big-time criminal banker Doyle Lonnegan.  When his partner is killed for this, Johnny vows to get even by swindling Lonnegan with the help of major con artist Henry Gondorff.  What unfolds is one of the most well-told stories ever created on film, which I was thrilled to have an excuse to watch again.

The plot twists are so intricate and unpredictable that it takes more than one viewing to fully appreciate them.  Certain scenes could be interpreted several ways, and it's up to the audience members to draw their own inferences, which may or may not turn out to be correct.  The script and character development are phenomenal.  Robert Redford and Paul Newman are unsurprisingly fabulous as Hooker and Gondorff (and they're also ridiculously good-looking, which doesn't hurt).  Every aspect of filmmaking is utilized perfectly to tell this fascinating story in the best possible way.

With a premise like this, one might expect a heavy, depressing movie, like The Godfather.  But the tone of this film is decidedly upbeat, in a mischievous way.  This is greatly aided by the soundtrack, which consists entirely of ragtime music.  What an extremely odd choice by the filmmakers, since the film is set in the mid-1930s, and ragtime was most popular in the 1900s-1910s.  I really want to know how they came up with that.  But whatever their reasons, the film wouldn't be the same without the soundtrack, which works remarkably well to complete this absolutely amazing film.  Seriously, this is one of the best, and currently most underrated, movies to win this award.  If I had to change one thing, it would be Robert Redford's character's name.  It's difficult not to chuckle when everyone refers to him as "Hooker."  But other than that, this is one of the closest things to a flawless film I've ever seen.  And it actually won 7 Oscars, so kudos to the Academy.

Next: The Godfather Part II

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