Saturday, August 6, 2016
So, this was a really fun movie. It was a great caper movie, made better by delightfully anachronistic ragtime music. Though probably because of The Sting, people associate ragtime music with the 30's, even though ragtime is Edwardian. Some Like it Hot got the soundtrack right, but why be picky, when a bunch of classic rags made it on to the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973? The fashion is also fun to look at, with Robert Redford dashing about in one of the gaudiest suits on film, and everyone complimenting him on looking so sharp. Also definitely worth noting are the very clever title cards for each phase of the operation - each is done in a gorgeous Norman Rockwell style, and each describes part of the set-up for the titular "Sting", or when the con men finally trick their mark out of his money.
This is an excellent crime caper movie. The plot hinges on a small-time grifter accidentally getting a huge pay-out from a mob boss (Lonnegan), who has the grifter's about-to-retire partner/mentor (Luther) murdered. The grifter, Hooker, then seeks out a big conman, Gondorff, to plan a huge con to get revenge for Luther. Complicating this is Lonnegan's deserved reputation for ferocity, a policeman chasing Hooker for counterfeiting, and Lonnegan's hired guns chasing Hooker. Everyone is chasing Hooker throughout this movie, and Robert Redford spends a ton of time running away in that ridiculous suit. Then also, you're dealing with two conmen - so is it possible that someone will double-cross someone else over money, danger, or honor? The movie manages to keep everything in shadow, and make you very aware that you are not dealing with good men. Just very likable and interesting to watch men. There are no answers until the last five minutes of the movie, which is exactly how it should play out in a crime caper. I was expecting it to be more humorous and less dramatic, but then again, the first caper film I ever saw was The Great Muppet Caper. The drama worked fine, and the important thing was the sparkling wit and dialogue, and watching all these disparate people trying to keep one step ahead of each other.
I'd definitely mark this as a watch. I don't know yet if it's as good the second time, when you know the outcome of the caper and the threats and all the plotlines that are constantly threatening to overturn the sting itself, but I have a suspicion that it is. This movie was seriously a delight, and as long as it's on Netflix, I'd say give it a chance.