Often in the shadow of that other Robert Redford-Paul Newman two-hander, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting is — by any measure — one of the most
Often in the shadow of that other Robert Redford-Paul Newman two-hander, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting is — by any measure — one of the most successful movies of all time. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won seven, tying other Hollywood epics like Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars. It was a gigantic box office smash: the 22nd highest grossing movie ever. It led to a nationwide revival of ragtime music (the main theme, Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer,” made it to No. 3 on the Billboard charts a mere 71 years after its first release). And, of course, it reunited two of the biggest stars of the 1970s, sharing the big screen for what would be the final time. But it almost didn’t happen! Trivia time: Rob Cohen, who would go on to direct The Fast and the Furious, was working as a low-level script reader when he found it in a slush pile (the heap of unsolicited screenplays that wannabe screenwriters send to Hollywood agencies). He made a bet with his boss: either a studio will buy this movie as “an award-winning, major-cast, major-director film” or he’d be fired; Universal picked up the rights later that afternoon. The Sting hinges on an incredibly complicated horse-betting scam being run by two slick con-men trying to simultaneously avoid getting snuffed by another gangster (Robert Shaw) and getting away from the cops, all while making a bunch of money besides. A beautifully appointed period piece, delicately plotted and dripping with charisma, it’s an all-time American classic.
Immediately after the film, USF film professor Harriet Deer will lead a short discussion of The Stingand an audience Q&A. The session is included with film admission.