Wednesday, 28 April 2010

'Sorry I'm late. I was taking a crap '

The Sting
Dir. George Roy Hill
(19173 Universal Pictures)

Newman and the gang re-team for more glory.

It's hard not to enjoy this film when you watch the Butch Cassidy team again. Redford and Newman, Chicago, the cons and plays all carry a wonderful exuberance. The story can be explained by the insert titles which appear throughout the film, with my prologue: Newman and Redford orchestrate a con what follows : the players...the set up...the hook...the tale...the wire...the shut-out...the sting... the titles do feel a little Bugsy Malone. Why does Roy Hill have to clarify what is just about to unfold in front of my eyes. It's unnecessary and takes a little of the magic away from the story. Newman as Henry Gondorff is memorable (when is Newman not memorable?), he's here for the ride and loves the con. His game of poker with Robert Shaw, three nines, to his three jacks is a brilliantly engineered scene in the hustle and bravado of a grifter. Newman playing drunk and slapping on gin as aftershave is a nice touch. Redford is equally impressive - in one of the opening scenes he gambles and looses $6000 – he doesn't even seem to care. Redford is dashing in his pin stripe suit and always on the run from a pig by the name of Snyder. Dodging trouble whereever he goes jumping over rooftops, dustbins and railway lines, is slightly repetitive. On repetitiveness...there were a lot of dissolves which felt 1970's - if they weren't pioneering I felt they were meant to be pioneering and I didn't like it. David Ward's script verges in places on a tedious farce, Robert Shaw as the villain and his gulliblity or rather appetite for accepting the con is a bit pantomine-esque. But in other places Ward keeps the audience guessing, the FBI and the final scene work well. A fun ride.

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