With Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw, Charles Durning, Harold Gould, Charles Dierkop, Sally Kirkland, Jack Kehoe, Robert Earl Jones, Eileen Brennan, John Quade, Ray Walston, Dana Elcar, John Heffernan, Dimitra Arliss, James Sloyan, Lee Paul, Avon Long, Arch Johnson, Ed Bakey
The Sting is a 1973 American caper film set in September 1936, involving a complicated plot by two professional grifters to con a mob boss. The film was directed by George Roy Hill, who had directed Newman and Redford in the western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Created by screenwriter David S. Ward, the story was inspired by real-life cons perpetrated by brothers Fred and Charley Gondorff and documented by David Maurer in his book The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man.
The title phrase refers to the moment when a con artist finishes the “play” and takes the mark’s money. If a con is successful, the mark does not realize he has been “taken”, at least not until the con men are long gone. The film is played out in distinct sections with old-fashioned title cards, with lettering and illustrations rendered in a style reminiscent of the Saturday Evening Post. The film is noted for its anachronistic use of ragtime, particularly the melody “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin, which was adapted for the movie by Marvin Hamlisch. The film’s success encouraged a surge of popular and critical acclaim for Joplin’s work.