Monkey See
4:13 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Home Video Picks: 'The Sting'

Originally published on Tue June 5, 2012 7:53 pm

Time now for a home-viewing recommendation from movie critic Bob Mondello. He's says he's excited about the Blu-ray release of The Sting...and that's no con.

All it takes is a few notes of that Scott Joplin rag and the whole movie starts playing in my head: In Depression-era Chicago, two grifters, experts in the confidence game, come up with a big con to get back at a crooked banker who'd killed a friend. Robert Redford is Hooker, a small-timer with a cause; Paul Newman is Gondorf, an old-timer with experience.

In my memory, the whole movie is sepia-toned, but in this Blu-ray transfer, the colors are vibrant. in fact "Blu"-ray, for once, seems appropriate given the two pairs of baby-blues it's adding luster to. Redford and Newman had just teamed up with director George Roy Hill a few years earlier for Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, so re-teaming them in another buddy flick was a no-brainer. And this time they're surrounded with a great supporting cast — limping bad guy Robert Shaw, growling cop Charles Durning, sashaying madame Eileen Brennan, and a whole raft of character types.

The Blu-ray packaging is handsome without being terribly informative. Most of the extras aren't new — a three-part making-of film was already on previous releases, and the studio's self-promotional, Centennial stuff mostly amounts to a come-visit-Universal-Studios ad. But the extras in this case are just window-dressing. The reason to see The Sting is to luxuriate — either again, or if you're really lucky, for the very first time — in the confidence of the con.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Time now for another home viewing recommendation from our movie critic, Bob Mondello. He's excited about the new blu-ray release of "The Sting."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Just a few notes of that Scott Joplin rag and the whole movie starts playing in my head - Depression-era Chicago, two grifters, experts in the confidence game, come up with a big con to get back at a guy who'd killed a friend. Robert Redford is Hooker, a small-timer with a cause, Paul Newman is Gondorf, an old-timer with experience.

(SOUNDBITE FROM "THE STING")

PAUL NEWMAN: (As Gondorf) Can't do it alone, you know. It takes a mob of guys like you and enough money to make 'em look good.

ROBERT REDFORD: (As Hooker) Well, I know plenty of guys.

NEWMAN: (As Gondorf) Not like finding winos in the street. You can't outrun them.

REDFORD: (As Hooker) I never played for no winos.

NEWMAN: (As Gondorf) You got to keep his con even after you take his money. He can't know you took 'em.

REDFORD: (As Hooker) You're scared of 'em.

NEWMAN: (As Gondorf) Right down to my socks, buster. You're talking about a guy who'd kill a grifter over a chunk of money, wouldn't support 'em for two days.

MONDELLO: Redford's eyes widen slightly.

(SOUNDBITE OF "THE STING")

REDFORD: (As Hooker) You're gonna go for it.

MONDELLO: Yes, he is. In my memory, the whole movie is sepia-toned, but in this Blu-ray transfer, the colors are vibrant. In fact, Blu-ray, for once, seems appropriate given the two pairs of baby-blues it's adding luster to.

(SOUNDBITE OF "THE STING")

REDFORD: (As Hooker) How many guys you conned in your life?

NEWMAN: (As Gondorf) I don't know, two, 300. I've got it down to a business and I really stunk, kid. No sense being a grafter if it's the same as being a citizen.

MONDELLO: Redford and Newman had just teamed up with director George Roy Hill a few years earlier for "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid," so re-teaming them in another buddy flick was a no-brainer. Surrounding them with a great supporting cast didn't hurt, limping bad guy Robert Shaw, growling cop Charles Durning, sashaying madame Eileen Brennan, and a whole raft of character types.

(SOUNDBITE OF "THE STING")

NEWMAN: (As Gondorf) That'd be Horsefaced Lee, Slim Miller, Suitcase Murphy and the Big Alabama are from New Orleans. Crying Josie and The Boom Kid...

MONDELLO: The Blu-ray packaging is handsome without being terribly informative. Most of the extras aren't new, a three-part making-of film was already on previous releases, and the studio's self-promotional, centennial stuff mostly amounts to a come-visit-Universal-Studios ad. But the extras in this case are just window-dressing. The reason to see "The Sting" is to luxuriate, either again, or if you're really lucky, for the very first time in the confidence of the con. I'm Bob Mondello. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.