Posted by highhurdler on June 22, 2011
I watched this Academy Award winning Best Picture again for the first time in decades the other day and, while it’s an entertaining film that features the second & last classic pairing of acting heavyweights Paul Newman and Robert Redford, it was somewhat difficult to watch knowing the ending. There are a lot of movies that lose their “sting” after you know the outcome.
The Sting (1973) is a marvelously constructed caper comedy with an outstanding cast. Besides its headliners, there’s Robert Shaw – several years after his Supporting Actor Academy Award nominated role as Henry VIII in A Man for All Seasons (1966) and a couple years before his best known role as Quint in Jaws (1975) – as “the mark”, Charles Durning as a corrupt cop, Ray Walston, Eileen Brennan, Harold Gould and Charles Dierkop (among others). Even Sally Kirkland (as a stripper) and classic character William ‘Billy’ Benedict make brief appearances. I’m not going to detail the plot here (especially since someone did a marvelous job of doing it for Wikipedia) but the story is laid out in sections like an old-time seven reel movie of its time setting – The Players, The Set-Up, The Hook, The Take, The Wire, The Shut-Out and The Sting – even though it runs quite a bit longer than 80 minutes.
It was directed by George Roy Hill, who’d also directed Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), and was written by David S. Ward, who would go on to write the baseball comedy franchise Major League and collaborated on Sleepless in Seattle (1993), but we can forgive him those; a guy’s got to make a living. Hill, Ward, Edith Head (she won the last of her eight golden statuettes, out of 35 nominations!) for costume design, editor William Reynolds (The Sound of Music (1965)), and composer Marvin Hamlisch (he won all three of his Oscars that year; the other two were for The Way We Were (1973) also starring Redford) took top honors as did set designers Harry Bumstead and James W. Payne. Redford received his only Oscar nomination in the acting category; the film’s cinematography and sound were also nominated. The Sting (1973) was added to the National Film Registry in 2005.
Another movie that would be difficult to enjoy a second time is The Sixth Sense (1999) which, come to think of it, was pretty hard to watch the first time. Unlike most of my fellow morlocks, I get no pleasure out of seeing dead people. In fact, the only reason I’d endure a second viewing would be to try to catch any flaws or inconsistencies with its ‘spoiled’ premise.
While the original theatrical release of Psycho (1960) featured a poster of Alfred Hitchcock that warned: “It is required that you see PSYCHO from the very beginning” and “The manager of this theatre has been instructed at the risk of his life, not to admit to the theatre any persons after the picture starts. Any spurious attempts to enter by side doors, fire escapes or ventilating shafts will be met by force. The entire objective of this extraordinary policy, of course, is to help you enjoy PSYCHO more” and was signed the director, knowing what happens in this one hasn’t kept me from enjoying it time and time again (though I could do without its sequels and remake).
Another horror ‘classic’ that everyone should see at least once, but would be tough to sit through twice, is The Silence of the Lambs (1993), and I would put the classics Cape Fear (1962) and In Cold Blood (1967) in a similar category.
On the other hand, Apollo 13 (1995) held my attention even though I knew its outcome in advance, whereas the original Planet of the Apes (1968) is spoiled once it’s spoiled, if you know what I mean (so why remake it?).
Other movies whose impacts are diminished once you know their endings or significant plot elements include: The Crying Game (1992), Primal Fear (1996), The Fight Club (1999), and Unbreakable (2000).
The reel challenge is make a movie that still holds up even after the audience knows its (twist) ending, like: The Wizard of Oz (1939), The Usual Suspects (1995), the original Star Wars trilogy, several of Christopher Nolan’s hits, and remakes like An Affair to Remember (1957) – better star power (ditto My Fair Lady (1964)), The Magnificent Seven (1960) – no subtitles, and King Kong (2005) – better special effects.
MovieMorlocks.com is the official blog for TCM. No topic is too obscure or niche to be excluded from our film discussions. And we welcome your comments on our blogs and bloggers.
Popular terms3-D Action Films Actors Actors' Endorsements Actresses animal stars Animation Anime Anthology Films Autobiography Avant-Garde Aviation Awards B-movies Beer in Film Behind the Scenes Best of the Year lists Biography Biopics Blu-Ray Books on Film Boxing films British Cinema Canadian Cinema Character Actors Chicago Film History Cinematography Classic Films College Life on Film Comedy Comic Book Movies Crime Czech Film Dance on Film Digital Cinema Directors Disaster Films Documentary Drama DVD Early Talkies Editing Educational Films European Influence on American Cinema Experimental Exploitation Fairy Tales on Film Faith or Christian-based Films Family Films Fan Edits Film Composers Film Criticism film festivals Film History in Florida Film Noir Film Scholars Film titles Filmmaking Techniques Films of the 1980s Food in Film Foreign Film French Film Gangster films Genre Genre spoofs Guest Programmers HD & Blu-Ray Holiday Movies Hollywood history Hollywood lifestyles Horror Horror Movies Icons independent film Italian Film Japanese Film Korean Film Leadership Literary Adaptations Martial Arts Melodramas Method Acting Mexican Cinema Moguls Monster Movies Movie Books Movie Costumes Movie locations Movie lovers Movie Magazines Movie Reviewers Movie settings Movie Stars Movies about movies Music in Film Musicals New Releases Outdoor Cinema Paranoid Thrillers Parenting on film Pirate movies Polish film industry political thrillers Politics in Film Pornography Pre-Code Producers Race in American Film Remakes Revenge Road Movies Romance Romantic Comedies Russian Film Industry Satire Scandals Science Fiction Screenwriters Semi-documentaries Serials Short Films Silent Film silent films Social Problem Film Spaghetti Westerns Sports Sports on Film Stereotypes Straight-to-DVD Studio Politics Stunts and stuntmen Suspense thriller Swashbucklers TCM Classic Film Festival Tearjerkers Television The British in Hollywood The Germans in Hollywood The Hungarians in Hollywood The Irish in Hollywood The Russians in Hollywood Theaters Thriller Trains in movies Underground Cinema VOD War film Westerns Women in the Film Industry Women's Weepies