The Sting – Blu-ray Disc Review

June 1, 2012 – 6:24 PM - Posted by: Justin Sluss

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Blu-ray Disc Review

5 out of 5 starsThe Movie Itself has an average rating of 8.4 on IMDb
4 out of 5 starsVideo Quality 1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
4 out of 5 starsAudio Quality
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
3 out of 5 starsBonus Materials with a retrospective, booklet & DVD
Year: – 1973
Length: – 130 minutes
Region:Region Free (A/B/C)
This uses 31.5GB for the movie out of 39.9GB total.
Street Date: June 5th 2012

Overall VerdictA Recommended Classic

Buy the
Buy the “Collector’s Series” Blu-ray for $25.95 @

or Buy the standard Blu-ray for $11.96 @

— Review written by: Justin Sluss


The Movie Itself was directed by George Roy Hill, best known for directing “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” from 1969 as well as “The Great Waldo Pepper” (1975), “Slap Shot” (1977), “The World According to Garp” (1982) and “Funny Farm” (1982). The screenplay was written by David S. Ward who would later go on to write screenplays for films like “Major League” (1989), “King Ralph” (1991) and “Sleepless in Seattle” (1993).

The film’s set in 1936 and the main character is a con-artist by the name of “Johnny Hooker” (played by Robert Redford) living in Joilet, Illinois who manages to find himself and his partners in one con-job a bit larger than they expected. Johnny along with his partners “Luther” (Robert Earl Jones) and “Eerie” (Jack Kehoe) end up conning a man who is carrying thousands of dollars that was to be delivered to a Chicago mob boss. The mob boss named “Doyle Lonnegan” (played by Robert Shaw) doesn’t take too kindly to this when he hears the news. Another man who knows the con-artists responsible who doesn’t take too kindly to this is a police lieutenant by the name of “Snyder” (Charles Durning) who is out to catch Hooker at any means necessary.

Before Hooker meets up with his partners to split the money he goes out, buys himself a new suit and has himself a night on the town with his lady friend “Crystal” (Sally Kirland). He’s promised this girl he’ll spend 50 dollars on her but before he can he manages to gamble all of his cut of the con away at a local club. She’s upset and storms off, leaving him by himself with a bottle of liquor which he tosses into the trash. He then proceeds to go meet up with his partners to split the cash. Their meet up spot is the home of the older gentleman Luther who’s been doing this con artist job for many years. When Hooker tells Luther that he ended up losing all his money gambling he’s yelled at by the elder. Luther tells Hooker that he’s quitting the business but tells him of a “big con” he can be part of if he meets a certain gentleman. Hooker is obviously unhappy he can’t do his regular routine any longer and heads out only to be shaken down by the Lt. Snyder out to get him. The police officer knows that Hooker was part of the con-job and asks for a $1000 cut of the profits to not turn him in to the mob boss. As we know Hooker doesn’t have any money left yet he manages to hand the police officer a stack of cash; all of which is counterfeit. This will be why this officer will be after Hooker for the remainder of the film.

After this happens he decides to go visit his former partner Walter to warn him to be on the lookout for the police officer, only to find that his friend has obviously been killed. The party responsible for this murder is undoubtably the mob boss Lonnengan via his hired thugs. This upsets Hooker more than words could even begin to describe and he’s seeking revenge. So, he goes to visit the gentleman that his late friend Luther told him could help him do a larger con-job (“the big con”). He first comes across a lady by the name of “Billie” (Eileen Brennan) who runs an indoors amusement park of sorts where the gentleman works. She tells him at first she’s never heard of the guy he’s looking for but she soon recognizes who he is and knows about what happened to his friend Luther. Billie sends him in to meet the gentleman by the name of “Henry Gondorff” (played by Paul Newman). Gondorff is a legendary con-man who’s in hiding from the F.B.I. but hasn’t totally decided to quit the business yet. It takes him a while to sober up to discuss things with Hooker but once he does they come up with a scheme to get revenge on the mob boss Lonnengan.

To do this “big con” they’ll need some help and that’s where the other key players come in. Folks joining them on the con are “J.J. Singleton” (Ray Walston), “Kid Twist” (Harold Gould), former banker “Eddie Niles” (John Heffernan) and Gondorff’s lady friend Billie. Their goal is to first con the mob boss in a card game for a large sum of money to initiate contact with him. From there let’s just say they plan to con him for a whole lot more money than they do in the card game.

The Sting” won a total of SEVEN Academy Awards (“Oscars“) including Best Picture. It had a great cast, namely the team-up between Robert Redford and Paul Newman who had previously co-starred together in another George Roy Hill directed film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” from 1969. Director George Roy Hill would team up again with Robert Redford for the film “The Great Waldo Pepper” in 1975 and also team up again with Paul Newman for the film “Slap Shot” in 1977.

Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This was shot on 35MM film and the transfer here comes from a digital restoration that has been fully restored from high resolution 35MM original film elements. Film grain is present here but the print has definitely been cleaned up. However, I don’t think that much DNR (digital noise reduction) was used as things don’t seem too “smoothed over” so-to-speak. There’s a great amount of detail here, especially in close-up shots of the film’s stars (as seen in screenshots). The black level is solid, the color palette is somewhat subdued but at times vibrant for the most part and flesh tones are accurate.

A lot of the elements of the production value here are done justice such as the cinematography by DP (director of photography) Robert Surtees, art director Henry Bumstead, matte painter Albert Whitlock and last but not least the costume design by the legendary Edith Head. I’ve got to say this delivers a solid Hi-Def visual presentation via the digital restoration but I feel it could have possibly looked just a tad bit better if the studio had given it perhaps a bit more attention. Still though, this looks good and earns itself a “4 Star Rating” for overall video quality. Fans will be pleased for the most part. Some purists will find things to complain about; as they always seem to do.

Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. During the film’s memorable opening credits you’ll notice that the music gets a nice delivery with a decent amount of rear channel presence and even just a tad bit of LFE (bass). Considering it came from a Mono source this is pretty impressive. Once the credits are over you’ll notice that dialogue is delivered very distinctly through primarily the front center channel. The memorable ragtime music written by composer Scott Joplin and adapted/performed by composer Marvin Hamlisch is done justice here. This music really helps to set the mood of the film throughout; especially in this new 5.1 lossless mix. There’s the occasional sound effects and they come across as lifelike or impressive as possible for something from a 1973 mono sound source. A few times you’ll hear the subwoofer (LFE) channel get some action from either the music or sound effects but it’s not really used a whole heck of a lot. The sound presentation here is solid and gets the job done. All and all this earns itself a “4 Star Rating” for overall audio quality. Fans will be pleased.

Bonus Materials on this release are presented in both full 1080p Hi-Def (HD) and Standard Definition (SD) video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound @256kbps — unless otherwise noted below.

  • BD-Live is included on this Universal Blu-ray Disc release that allows users to access online content from the studio such as trailers for upcoming films. This requires the user to be on a “Profile 2.0” capable Blu-ray Disc player and have Internet connectivity. The feature pocketBLU is also included which allows users to control the film via their smartphone or tablet as a remote control or access select special features from the film. This does work via Wi-Fi though, so you’ll need a router — essentially a Wi-Fi network that your Blu-ray Disc player is connected to as well as your portable device (smartphone or tablet).
  • The Art of The Sting” (56:14 – SD) is a 3-part retrospective / documentary on the making of the film that includes interviews with the stars Robert Redford and Paul Newman as well as others involved with the film. Those others involved with the film that give interviews here include screenwriter David Ward, co-stars Ray Walston, Charles Durning, Eileen Brennan, Dimitra Alriss and musical composer Marvin Hamlisch. This features Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @192kbps sound.
  • 100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics” (9:13 – HD) gives a glimpse at titles that have been restored and a few of which have yet to be released on Blu-ray Disc such as: “The Bride of Frankenstein“, “The Birds“, “Dracula“, “Frankenstein“, “Jaws“, “Pillow Talk” and “The Sting” — this film.
  • 100 Years of Universal: The ’70s” (11:01 – HD) focuses a tad bit on this film as well as others from the 1970s like “American Graffiti“, “Animal House“, “Jaws” and “Smokey and the Bandit“. It’s served up with interviews from the likes of directors, actors, screenwriters and even one reporter. Those interviewed here include: Steven Spielberg, Peter Berg, Russell Crowe, Ted Danson, David S. Ward (screenwriter of this film), Peyton Reed, Bob Gale, Amy Heckerling, Ron Howard, Judd Apatow, Paul Rudd, Dermont Mulroney, Danny DeVito, Hal Needham, Geoff Boucher, John Landis, Ivan Reitman, Chris Weitz, John Krasinski and Stephen Daldry.
  • 100 Years of Universal: The Lot” (9:25 – HD) gives you a tour of sorts as well as interviews with directors and actors discussing the lot itself. Those interviewed here include: Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, Paul Rudd, Peyton Reed, Ivan Reitman, Peter Berg, Dan Aykroyd, Ron Howard, John Carpenter and Phil Alden Robinson. You’ll get some tours through such areas as the “Psycho” house, the court house square used in “To Kill A Mockingbird” and the “Back to the Future” films, the fountain from “Frankenstein“, Park Lake as seen in “The Creature From the Black Lagoon” and the set for “The Phantom of the Opera” also used in “Dracula” on Stage 28.
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:13 – SD) features Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @192kbps sound.
  • A 46-Page Booklet is part of the packaging on the “Collector’s Series” version. This is NOT included with the standard Blu-ray version. The booklet starts off with an opening from film critic & historian Leonard Maltin, continues with a list of the players (characters in the film), includes biographies on the actors and director, also contains a first draft of the screenplay with director notes, info on costume designer Edith Head as well as sketches of the costumes. There’s info regarding the musical composer Albert Hamslisch, poster art from the ad campaign, artwork from the awards campaign, lots of information regarding how the film did at the Academy Awards, short bits of discussion about gangsters of the 1930s, the art of being a con-man and lastly a short discussion on the award-winning friendship between co-stars Paul Newman & Robert Redford. Below you’ll find an image of what this booklet looks like.
  • A DVD of the film in Standard Definition with Dolby Digital 5.1 @448kbps sound is included. This has two bonus features listed above: “The Art of The Sting” and the Theatrical Trailer.
  • A Digital Copy of the film is included via a URL and redemption code included on a paper insert in the packaging. This is compatible with both iTunes and Windows Media portable devices as well as Mac and PC.

Overall the bonus materials here prove to definitely be worthwhile. You get the almost hour-long 2005 retrospective “The Art of The Sting“, the three “100 Years of Universal” featurettes that total up to around 30 minutes in length and there’s the 2 minute trailer. You get a good hour and half of traditional supplemental materials. In addition to those you get physical and digital bonus material in the form of a DVD and Digital Copy of the film. On the “Collector’s Series” you get a very nice 46-page booklet that proves to be very much worth the read. It’s enough to earn THAT VERSION a “3 Star Rating” for bonus materials; however I’d deduct half a star for the standard Blu-ray since it doesn’t include the booklet.

Blu-ray Disc packaging:



NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Please be patient with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.

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