DVD Review: The Sting (1973)

The Sting DVDIn life, there is always one big opportunity that we think is waiting out there for us. We prepare all our lives for it. The Sting happens to be that one big opportunity (big con) for Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) and Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman). Johnny works as a grifter with his friend, Luther (Robert Earl Jones). But when the two’s biggest hustle turns out to be on a big gangster named Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), Luther is killed.

Johnny seeks revenge and teams up with Luther’s friend Henry to settle the score. Johnny, Henry, and hundreds of others decide to con Doyle in a horse race: first, with a set-up painting Henry as a huge boss himself to Doyle; second, with Johnny gaining confidence to Doyle; third, with an elaborate parlor/club as the setting for the betting; finally, with so many other plot-points it would ruin the film to mention them.

Redford and Newman re-team for another George Roy Hill film after the three worked together on the incredible Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (1969). Redford is great as Johnny, who matures from an uncertain street grifter into a confident apprentice to Henry. Newman plays Henry with such coolness that I found myself making no similarities to his role as the wise Butch Cassidy. Shaw is equally impressive as the hard-boiled Doyle.

Winner of seven Academy Awards (1973) including Best Picture, The Sting holds up well after over 30 years–being lighthearted, yet very suspenseful as twists seem to constantly unfold until it’s time to pull the “sting.”

Video and Audio

Sporting an all-new digitally remastered anamorphic widescreen, The Sting looks tremendously better than the previous full-screen DVD release. Although the 32-year film does show its “print” age, it’s more from grain than scratches.

The audio includes Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. I used the Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, and it does sound very good. Car-horns are audible and so are normal jibber-jabber. Scott Joplin would be proud that his piano rags sound so great.

Special Features

On the second disc, there is an hour length feature titled “The Art Of The Sting” broken into three sections: “A Perfect Script,” “Making A Masterpiece” and “The Legacy.” “The Script” has Redford, Newman, Hill and many others discussing David S. Ward’s script. Hill himself discusses the steps he took to maintain the film’s authenticity. “Masterpiece” has the actors and filmmakers discussing the making of The Sting, especially on how perfect and influential Scott Joplin’s music was on the film. “Legacy” is a piece on Hill and how great of a director and person he was to the people that knew him. Newman tells a funny story involving Hill, him, beer, vodka and a desk.

Production notes and the theatrical trailer round out the second disc.

NOTE: Article/webpage updated.

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