The Sting 4K Blu-Ray Review
George Roy Hill’s Oscar winning crime caper is given a spectacular 4K restoration in this latest release from the Universal archives. Originally released at the height of American cinemas new wave, ‘The Sting’ expertly pays homage to the glory days of Hollywood and studio filmmaking whilst also tipping its fedora knowingly in the direction of more modern styles and sensibilities, no doubt influencing the likes of Soderbergh and Tarantino along the way.
Robert Redford is on sparkling form as Johnny Hooker, a street grifter in Depression era Illinois. When he unknowingly rips off crime boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) his partner in the scam is brutally murdered, and he is forced to flee for his life. On the run from the cops as well as the dangerous Lonnegan, Hooker makes his way to Chicago and seeks out the legendary long-conman Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) to help him scam Lonnegan and avenge the death of his friend.
Structured in novelistic chapters to mark out each individual part of the con, David S. Ward’s Oscar winning script is pacy, precise, and full of heart, humour, and sly winks, as it tries to stay one step ahead of the viewer. As is so often the case with movies about con-artists, you know they are going to try and hoodwink you, and half of the fun is trying to beat them at their own game. Undoubtedly an inspiration for the Ocean’s movies, it’s a masterful piece of writing, marshalled expertly by director George Roy Hill.
Working alongside legendary cinematographer Robert Surtees, and art director Henry Bumstead, Hill creates a visual feast of a film, flooded with colour, and just oozing style. Then you add in the star attraction pairing of Redford and Newman, reuniting after Butch & Sundance, and their effortless chemistry just transfixes you. It’s a near perfect piece of cinema, thrilling and entertaining in equal measure, and it has never looked better.
Disappointingly, this gorgeous new 4K release comes a little light on the bonus features. The main special feature is a documentary called ‘The Art of The Sting’ which has ported across from the 2005 special edition DVD. The programme looks at how the script was turned into this award-winning classic film, and its overall legacy in film history. It features interviews with all the main cast and crew.
Then there are three, fairly generic short films about the history of Universal Studios which were made in 2012. Each titled ‘100 Years of Universal’, the first is about restoring the classics and features various film technicians talking about the preservation and restoration process of the classic films from the Universal archive. The next one is about the 70s, an iconic era in American cinema. The final clip is about the studio backlot at Universal, and includes interviews with famous directors who have worked there such as Spielberg, Michael Mann, and Ivan Reitman. The disc also includes the theatrical trailer.
It’s also worth noting that Universal have once again outdone themselves with the main menu navigation…it is atrocious as always. None of this detracts from the film however, which is a magnificent, timeless masterpiece. Just a shame they couldn’t come up with some new special features, and create a main menu that doesn’t make you want to throw your remote through the TV screen.