89. The Sting - The Part-Time Critic

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

89. The Sting

The Sting (1973)
Directed by George Roy Hill

For members of my generation The Sting is a film that is often overlooked and passed by. That the inferior Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, also featuring the teaming of Robert Redford and Paul Newman, receives more praise and viewings today is mystifying to me. Where Butch Cassidy has sprinkles of charm, The Sting exudes it. While Butch Cassidy may be interesting in stretches, The Sting is engaging throughout. I find the film superior in nearly every way (save the ‘raindrops’ sequence in Butch Cassidy).

The Sting is a remarkably likeable and enjoyable caper film, that is so lightweight and carefree it would be easy to mistake the film as a simple trifle, when in fact it’s a intricately written piece. I really feel it represents Robert Redford and Paul Newman at their most charismatic and fun. Their interplay with Robert Shaw (in another great performance) is the epitome of natural acting. This is a rewarding watch.

Thankfully, The Sting is lacking any of the inside snark that could sink or float the Ocean’s Eleven films. In fact, the matter of fact wholesomeness in the film is a refreshing characteristic that finds its way into several of the films on my list. It’s my favorite Con/Heist film because the light and wholesome tone to the film makes the twists and turns ‘fun’ rather than ‘deceptive’. It really allows me to enjoy the art of the con and the performance of the con, without the guilt of the con. To those who enjoyed Butch Cassidy, I urge you to re-consider this classic as essential viewing.


  1. Was it really necessary to put down the OCEAN'S ELEVEN movies in order to praise THE STING?

    You make it seem illegal to like them all.

  2. Thanks for the comment Rush,

    I think that that insider snark is something that I both love and hate when it comes to the Ocean's Elevens films. It can be the greatest strength as well as the biggest downside of the films. The Sting, which is similair in that its a playful heist film, lacks it altogether. Just trying to give people a good idea of the tone by contrasting it with a well known film that is similair. Thats all.