Starring: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw
Director: George Roy Hill
In 1930’s Chicago, a young grifter teams up with another con man to avenge the murder of a mutual friend by pulling of the biggest confidence trick of all time against a big time gangster.
The film has a playful, stylised feel, with amusing dialogue and beautiful illustrated title cards to separate the action into chapters.
Why is it a must see? A huge success in it’s day, winning seven Oscars in the year of it’s release. It’s really something to see the chemistry between the two leads, and the dialogue is really something, the leads all looking dapper in their 70’s version of the 1930’s. Oh, and the music as well.
But I think the heart of the film is that it keeps you guessing as to whether they’ll be able to pull it off. The stakes are high for the players in this game, and they stand to lose their lives if they fail. In films about grifting, the good guys have moral ambiguity, and yet their abilty to charm us, and those around them, as well as their vulnerability perhaps, makes them endearing to us. We want to see them making moves outside the law to trick the bad guys who also work outside the law. And we want to have a good time watching it.
This film has all of this in spades, and truly stands the test of time. It’s a lark.
See It If: you want to the great Redford and Newman in one great film, or if you love to see the underdog take on the big guys.