An enormous hit and the second time Robert Redford and Paul Newman shared the screen together, "The Sting" walked away on Oscar night with the Best Picture award, as well as a total of six others. The film takes place in Chicago in the 30's, and stars Redford and Newman as Johnny Newman and Henry Gondoroff, two depression-era hustlers trying to work their game.
The picture, directed by "Butch Cassidy" helmer George Roy Hill, has the two trying to take down a big-time criminal (Robert Shaw) after their friend is killed. Starting their major con with a poker game on a train, the two are constantly working to stay one step ahead of everyone else, including a cop sniffing around (Charles Durning).
The picture works incredibly well simply as a lively con game - we're rooting for the two leads to pull it off, and are hooked in further by every step of the plan that clicks into place. The performances by Redford and Newman are terrific, as the two prove once again that they're certainly one of cinema's great pairings. Also good in supporting efforts are Durning, Shaw and others.
The film's acting, direction and writing are classic, but "The Sting" also has a lot more to appreciate, including the production design, set decoration and cinematography, all of which are terrific, as the film's recreation of 30's Chicago is highly enjoyable to view. The only issue I have with the movie is that, at 130 minutes, the movie feels just a bit overlong. Overall, "The Sting" still works quite well years later, and certainly has influenced a few films in the years since it was first released.
VIDEO: "The Sting" is presented by Universal in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen here, which is certainly a nice step up from the full frame presentation on the film's prior DVD release. However, the image quality here is somewhat shaky at times. Sharpness and detail are mostly first-rate, although there are some moments scattered throughout where the image appeared somewhat softer by comparison.
The presentation also suffered from the presence of some minor-to-mild edge enhancement, which appeared in several scenes. The elements seemed to be in fine enough condition, considering the age of the picture. Some moderate grain was occasionally visible, as were some instances of slight specks. However, none of this became too major.
The film's color palette was generally subdued, but appeared accurate and not smeary or faded. Flesh tones appeared accurate, as well. Overall, this presentation was satisfactory, but some issues kept it from being much above that level.
SOUND: "The Sting" is presented in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 here. Neither audio presentation seemed like an improvement over the other, as these presentations merely opened out the original mono audio a bit. Surrounds really did not add much to the proceedings, aside from some minor ambience. Music, environmental sounds and sound effects were spread across the front speakers with moderate success, and overall, the presentation was a satisfactory reworking of the original mono soundtrack. Speaking of that mono track, it's also available here. Audio quality for the 5.1 presentation is fine, with clear dialogue and music. Effects lacked fullness, but sounded fairly well-recorded, considering the age of the picture.
EXTRAS: The main supplement is "The Art of The Sting", which is a documentary that runs around an hour. The piece includes some pretty enjoyable interview footage with Redford, Newman and others. The documentary does go a bit overboard on the inclusion of clips from the picture, but we do get some solid stories from the set and learn more about the production. The only other supplements are the film's trailer and production notes.
Final Thoughts: "The Sting" still stands out as a classic picture, with two great lead performances, a solid script and a superb recreation of 30's Chicago. The DVD edition provides fine - if not great - video quality, good audio quality and one pretty nifty supplement. Recommended.
The Film A-