The Sting (1973)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1973|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||George Roy Hill|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Any movie that can lay claim to winning seven Academy Awards, including the big one (Best Picture) in 1973, and is firmly entrenched in the Internet Movie Database Top 250 at number 77 must have something going for it.The Sting has been deemed a classic piece of cinema by many a critic and fan alike and holds a special place in many people's hearts. I remember seeing it for the first time and thinking that this was about as good as film-making got (I was easily pleased back then). Strong lead characters, a great supporting cast, and a story that hooked you in from the beginning and didn't let go. And just when you thought you had it all worked out, a real surprise twist at the end. Not many films have all that.
With director George Roy Hill teaming once again with his Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid pairing of Robert Redford and Paul Newman, success should have been easy. Set in 1936, Redford plays Johnny Hooker, a small-time grifter (conman). He and partner Luther mistakenly pick the wrong mark and lift the day's takings from one of Chicago's major crime bosses, Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) who exacts revenge and sends hitmen after Hooker. He seeks out legendary conman Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) for help, and together they plot to fleece Lonnegan in a high stakes game of cards. But this is only the beginning of the ploy to completely ruin Lonnegan.
So commences a highly intricate and elaborate "sting" operation involving several of Gondorff's less-than-honest pals and a fake betting house. To say any more about the planned sting and how it is performed would be to give away too much. Suffice it to say it is remarkably simple and you would have to be pretty stupid to fall for it (or greedy). The twist at the end comes as a complete surprise to most first-time viewers and is a real treat, as at no time during the film was the twist even hinted at.
Redford and Newman play the roles of Hooker and Gondorff with ease and relish. They were a dream pairing at the time, and the way they work with each other was a formula for success. The strong supporting cast is lead by the always-terrific Ray Walston as JJ. and Charles Durning as the mean copper, Lt Snyder.
I have a theory about the quality of DVDs released. The bigger the movie and the more awards it wins, the less effort is made in presenting a decent package for the disc. Just as the mega blockbuster Titanic was afforded little in the way of a decent transfer with no 16x9 enhancement nor extras, The Sting suffers the same fate. I think it should be mandatory that any Best Picture movie be afforded the best transfer and extras package available.
I was also disappointed with the packaging of this disc. The traditional movie poster for The Sting is a real classic with the instantly recognisable painted image of Redford and Newman. Alas, it is missing. All we get on this disc is a sepia montage of images from the movie. At least the classic image is presented on the main menu.
So, even though this is one of my favourite films it was with some trepidation that I sat down to view it. I was dreading an awful transfer that would do the film no justice at all. Sadly, some of my concerns were well-founded.
The lack of 16x9 enhancement is a major disappointment and the transfer suffers because of it.
The Sting is presented in an aspect of 1.85:1, and as previously mentioned is not 16x9 enhanced.
The sharpness level is serviceable with only minor break-outs of edge enhancement. The level of shadow detail is average without being spectacular. The darker alley scenes are black when necessary but some of the faces also tend to disappear in complete blackness at times.
The colours presented were better than I expected given my disappointment with the rest of the transfer.There is nothing overly vibrant about them, but a decent range of colours is presented with nice consistency to each of them. The 30s are represented as muted and depressed colours - lots of browns, tans, faded reds, and so forth (it was the height of the depression after all). There are no problems with colour bleeding or oversaturation. Skins tones are natural.
There were no MPEG artefacts noticed. Aliasing was evident throughout and at times was particularly distracting on the suits worn by the lead characters, the blinds in the various offices, and the blackboards in the betting house.The worst examples of this can be found on a suit at 3:50, blinds at 4:17, the blackboards at 49:24, and at 81:11 on the Western Union office. Film artefacts are numerous as one would expect from a film of this vintage which has had no effort made to clean them up.
Several subtitle options are presented.I viewed the English subtitles and noticed no apparent problems.
Contrary to what is stated on the packaging, this DVD is dual-layered. I was unable to detect the position of the layer change.
There's really not much to say about a mono soundtrack. Yep, it's mono in all its 1 channel glory. It's like listening to the movie on my grandmother's old National television. Straight out of the centre channel, dialogue competes with streetscape noise and other incessant chatter to create a very cluttered sonic experience. It's a shame that a fully remixed 5.1 isn't available, as many of the scenes would be greatly enhanced by the inclusion of one. The betting house scenes in particular would be far more encompassing and engaging if a full surround experience could be enjoyed.
The only 5 we get in respect to audio is not the 5.1 of a full Dolby Digital soundtrack but 5 different audio tracks, all mono of course. These are in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Only understanding English, that is the track that I listened to and I verified the presence of the other tracks.
There are no apparent dialogue problems. It is basically what you would expect from a mono track. No audio sync problems were noted.
The music is instantly recognisable - piano and plenty of it.The Entertainer is probably one of the most recognizable tunes in music history. People hum it, phones ring with it. Scott Joplin composed it many, many years previously and it along with several other of his Ragtime tunes are used by music director Marvin Hamlisch in the film.
There was of course no left/right or surround use. The sub had the night off, too.
|Surround Channel Use|
A bit of history on the making of the film, pretty brief and printed in quite small font overlaid on still images from the movie.
The usual brief bios and filmographies of the three main cast and the director. Again overlaid on still images from the movie.
What appears to be a re-release trailer is presented Full Frame 1.33:1 in what can only be describe as truly appalling condition. Blurry, grainy, scratched (deliberately by the looks of it) it also has a mono Dolby Digital soundtrack. Features a truly ingratiating voiceover.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The R4 disc misses out on;
Pan & Scan version
Dolby Digital 2.0 track - albeit mono
The R1 disc misses out on
1.85:1 widescreen version
Dolby Digital 1.0 track
Italian and German mono tracks
9 different subtitles
The Sting is a classic piece of cinema that everyone who considers themselves a movie buff must see at least once. It's a shame that such a classic has not been afforded better treatment on its transfer to DVD. At the very least I would expect a 16x9 enhanced image, remixed 5.1 sound and a small set of extras (there must surely have been some docos made about it).
The video transfer is not 16x9 enhanced and does suffer because of it, though it is not the worst example I have seen. The audio is barely adequate and the extras barely qualify as such.
|DVD||Toshiba 1200, using S-Video output|
|Display||Loewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10|