AFI Movie Club: THE STING – American Film Institute
The Sting Film Still - Paul Newman and Robert Redford



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. 

Watch Henry Winkler announce THE STING:

Movie Trivia about THE STING

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.   

DID YOU KNOW 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. 

DID YOU KNOW 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. 

DID YOU KNOW 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? 

DID YOU KNOW 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. 

DID YOU KNOW 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! 

DID YOU KNOW 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.  

DID YOU KNOW 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. 

DID YOU KNOW 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.

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

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-Robert Redford and Paul Newman are known for their crackling chemistry on screen in both THE STING and BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. What makes them so great together? Who else comes to mind when you thinking of great chemistry?  

-Who do you think is more clever, Johnny or Henry? Why? 

-How does the film romanticize the past – and why? 

-What are the narrative benefits to setting the film in a stylized past – and what are the visual tools that help establish the setting? 

-Do you think the film presents an accurate view of its period setting? 

-How is the rakish misconduct of Henry and Johnny different from that of Doyle Lonnegan? 

-Do you think Johnny and Henry are good guys? 

-How are grifters different in today’s society compared to the 1930s when the movie was set? 

-Were you able to follow along? Did you figure out the sting before it was sprung? 

-Why does THE STING still resonate with audiences still today? 

-How would you rate THE STING? 


In this exclusive AFI Archive video, director George Roy Hill talks about THE STING: 


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