The Sting (1973) – 4.5/5

Smart, slick, well written, tightly wound, and full of twists and turns I didn’t see coming at all, especially in the last third. It’s also just a dang good story; a well told, well acted, well-directed film that I enjoyed a heck of a lot more than the other famous Paul Newman/Robert Redford vehicle that everyone seems to go ape over, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” This movie is better in almost every way.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I love how old films look, with their soft focus and gritty cinematography, even when such grit has nothing to do with the story and is mostly unintentional due to the day’s technology, like here. The film doesn’t look perfect or shiny like today’s movies all seem to, nor does it move with the same level of grace and perfection, but it doesn’t matter. I actually prefer these little “imperfections;” they just seem more authentic, less artificial. There’s very little Hollywood gloss here, as is the case with most movies made before the mid 80s or so, and it’s great.

The only recent movie I can think of that was shot in a similar manner was “The House of the Devil,” and that was one of the best looking films of the last decade at least. Again, my opinion. I just really love the look of film. Old film, before computer editing applications gave editors the option to clean everything up. So, lesson for current and future filmmakers out there: your movie doesn’t have to look perfect to be great, or even good. Quite the opposite actually. This film is just one example of many. To hell with convention.

Anyway, this is a great film, as mentioned before. I again went into this not knowing anything about it, and again feel that it served to make the experience all the more enjoyable. Both Redford and Newman are at their best here, with Redford reminding me a bit of Brad Pitt at times for some reason. Must be the hair. And man does Newman have a big head in some shots, literally. His head seems like it was two sizes too big for his body, especially when he’s gambling with his shirt off. Maybe this is just a trick of the camera, but it was quite odd.

Everything else is great. It’s just a solid, enjoyable caper; suspenseful and clever, with a third act I didn’t see coming at all. Well worth watching.

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