There's not a whole lot to be said about The Sting. It's already a popular movie and I'm late to the game on the discussion. I always like Paul Newman, and Robert Redford was most definitely, as always, Robert Redford. I guess I was a little surprised to find the impetus for the characters setting up "the sting" was pretty much the "young handsome male" has his "aging black mentor" killed off by the movie's villain, ie: The Simpson's Mendoza.
|The first meeting of The Handsome Men's Club|
George Roy Hill was a talented director, and I think all of that's on display here. But aside from Robert Shaw as the movie's villain, it sometimes - especially in the first act - it feels a bit like "hey, we're modern actors having fun playing as if we're in an old timey movie!" rather than just playing it straight as a period movie.
I don't want to say I didn't like The Sting, but its not going to find its way to the top of my list.
For Christmas, I received two different collections of film noir from Jason. Its pretty neat, as I really don't know many of the movies, so every time I put one in, I don't know what to expect. Last night, because it featured Kim Novak, I pulled Five Against the House from the selections.
It's a heist flick, and more along the lines of a B-Noir than something like Out of the Past. The set-up is that, basically, four college buddies get bored and decide to see if they can rob a casino they visited once. Now, two of those buddies are law students who've served in Korea, so they're a bit older. And Kim Novak is a nightclub chanteuse girlfriend of the one who isn't suffering from PTSD.
While the movie is enjoyable enough, and the actors and plot more or less engaging enough, somebody knew the movie had one big selling point:
|well, it got ME to watch the movie|
The movie is fun enough, but I'd mention it for two reasons.
1) There's a shot very, very similar the one used in The Graduate; the famous "Dustin Hoffman framed by Anne Bancroft's leg" shot. Its almost hard to believe someone didn't remember that one. Kim Novak, ya'll.
|I'm not crazy, right?|
2) Soderbergh is a really smart guy, and I have to believe that when he was prepping for a big budget remake of the goofy-fun Ocean's 11, he also checked out a huge number of other casino heist movies to get inspiration. I can't help but think that part of his inspiration for Yen's part of the plan was inspired not by what actually happens in Five Against the House, but by what they tell other people they're doing, which is smuggling an ex-jockey into the casino in a box (which they've rigged up with a tape recorder and speaker).
While its not what Soderbergh did, its not too hard to make the leap. Then again, how many ways can you really get an inside man into a casino, I guess.
I am in favor of a good heist movie (see: The Killing), but this one is set up a bit oddly in that it all seems to lack real motivation, and that the stakes are non-existent for our leads. The most dramatic tension occurs between the romantic leads, and whether Kim Novak will flake on our baritone-voiced hero. The heist feels a little gimmicky, and there's not a lot of the usual fun in understanding the set-up, which... after watching The Sting, which is all set up, it just felt wrong.
5 Against the House is not going to go down on anyone's list as better than The Big Sleep, and were it not for the slow roll out of the PTSD storyline and its conclusion, I'd have a hard time labeling the movie as noir at all (not all heist movies are noir movies. See: Ocean's 11 and its remake, Ocean's 11). But it was okay, I suppose.