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The Sting Reviews

Vastly overrated Crooks-R-Us--this time you wear the moustache, enhanced by fine period trappings and flavor. Ultimately empty stuff, but preferable to BUTCH CASSIDY. By reuniting director George Roy Hill and actors Robert Redford and Paul Newman (BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID), THE STING emerged an equally successful entertainment, outgrossing every other picture of the year. Frightening. The story begins in September, 1936, in Joliet, Illinois. The city is run by corrupt officials, and the numbers racket runs rampant. When two-bit drifter Redford and his partner, Robert Earl Jones, the veteran bunco artist of the area, con one of the racketeers out of a $5,000 delivery, they find themselves mixed up with the big boys in Chicago and their head man, Shaw, a sleazy gangster who would gladly kill a drifter like Redford to retain control of his operation. Police lieutenant Durning shakes down Redford, who has already gambled away most of the money, threatening to kill him if he doesn't pay it back. Jones, who has decided to retire from the con game and get into a legitimate business is killed by two of Shaw's thugs. On the run from Joliet police and Shaw's goons, Redford heads for Chicago to meet a friend of Jones, a man described as "the greatest con artist of them all," Newman. Determined to avenge the murder of Jones, Redford makes plans to "sting" Shaw out of a fortune. Newman, a drunk who lives in backroom squalor in a joint run by Brennan, is wary of hooking up with the still inexperienced Redford. Newman is, however, finally convinced, and they set the gears into motion. Much of the film's success is a result of its visual brilliance: the aged look of Surtees' photography evokes a feeling of nostalgia, and the art direction, set decoration, and costuming are equally effective. Marvin Hamlisch did a fine job of adapting Scott Joplin's classic rags, especially "The Entertainer," which was soon a radio commonplace and sparked a renewed interest in the composer.