Redford & Newman
The Sting 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.
It’s set in 1936 in a big, brawling Chicago teeming with gangsters, gamblers and con artists. Redford and Newman, dressed in snap-brim hats and sharp pin-striped suits, are cast again as old friends, this time as a couple of con men trying to fleece dangerous New York mobster Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) out of a fortune. The swindle is as audacious as it is complex: in a nutshell, it involves creating a fake bookies, with fake horse-racing results, and persuading the cautious Doyle to bet big.
In the pantheon of great male cinematic double acts, Robert Redford and Paul Newman are up there with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. After proving for a second time how good they were together, it’s surprising that Redford and Newman never worked together again. This is especially odd when you consider that the two remained friends for the rest of their lives. The Sting also features a glorious ensemble of supporting actors, including Robert Shaw, Charles Durning, Ray Walston. Eileen Brennan, Harold Gould, and Dana Elcar.
The film was nominated for 10 Oscars, winning seven, including best picture, director and original screenplay. The legendary Edith Head won an Oscar for her costume design, and Marvin Hamlisch won for his adaptation of Scott Joplin’s ragtime jazz classic The Entertainer, the film’s main musical melody.