Director: George Roy Hill
Starring: Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Robert Shaw
What’s the score? $500,000, which was a lot more money in the 1930’s.
Who’s calling the shots? John Hooker and Henry Gondorff, two first-ballot, Hall-of-Fame con men.
Would I rob a bank with them? These men orchestrate an elaborate, dedicated ruse to rob a guy who would kill them if he found out. And the whole time, they’re smirking. Even if I had a secure job with benefits, I’d probably take them up on an offer.
What happens? In this winner of 1974’s Best Picture and Best Director, Robert Redford and Paul Newman are more handsome and charismatic than any other pair of humans had been until that time. Fresh off the success of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Redford stars as John Hooker, a gambling addicted con man whose partner retires after they clear thousands off a pigeon drop. The partner recommends Johnny meet up with Henry Gondorff (Newman), a legend hiding out from the police. But Johnny and his partner have accidentally ripped off mob boss, Doyle Lonnegan. He kills Hooker’s partner for this, causing Hooker to seek revenge with Gondorff in the form of the most intricate con in history where they create an entire fake gambling hall and horse race to bilk Lonnegan out of a half-mil. Redford and Newman orchestrate the multiple layers of deception with panache and once-in-a-generation chemistry, punctuating their movements with a nose-touching gesture that’s way suaver than it sounds. Set to merry-go-round ragtime music, it’s too complicated to explain here, but rest assured the film is dazzling, unpredictable and well-deserving of its Best Picture status.