Movie Club Weekly – American Film Institute

July 6, 2020




THE STING stars Robert Redford and Paul Newman with production design by Henry Bumstead. Bumstead – who won his second Academy Award® for THE STING’s impossibly charming period aesthetic – helped to educate the next generation of storytellers as a teacher at the AFI Conservatory.

Did you know?


According to screenwriter David Ward, he was signed on to make THE STING his directorial debut, but Robert Redford insisted he only would do the film with an experienced director. Redford thought that due to the structure of the movie, a real master director would be required to pull it off.

The script changed significantly when Paul Newman was cast as Henry Gondorff. The part was originally only a supporting role, and the character was envisioned as an overweight slob.

Robert Shaw’s limp in the film was not just part of his character. He was injured before filming on a handball court – but instead of dropping out of the movie, director George Roy Hill encouraged him to incorporate the limp into his character.

The film’s period feel was enhanced by cinematographer Robert Surtees. He used several period techniques that were popular in the1930s, including the “iris shot” fadeout, in which the action closes in an ever-decreasing circle.

According to screenwriter David Ward, the entire first week of shooting for THE STING was reshot. Director George Roy Hill thought it could be better, so he decided to redo it.

The film’s score was adapted by Marvin Hamlisch from the melodies of ragtime music composer Scott Joplin. The success of THE STING led to a renewed cultural appreciation of Joplin’s music more than half a century after the composer’s death!

Robert Redford’s portrayal of Johnny Hooker in THE STING is the only performance for which he earned an Academy Award® nomination for acting. All nominations received after that were in the category of producing and directing; he finally won for directing ORDINARY PEOPLE.

THE STING garnered 10 Academy Award® nominations, winning seven of them – including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Editing. This was the first best picture win for a Universal produced film in 43 years; the studio’s previous win had been ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT in 1930.

Right before THE STING was announced as Best Picture at the Academy Awards®, a streaker ran across the stage. The incident has become one of the most memorable moments in Oscar® history.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits. Engage with your family, friends and others like you who love the movies. Check out the AFI Movie Club Discussion Questions for this movie and post your responses in the comment section!


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