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Trivia & Fun Facts About THE STING

According to the book Inside Oscar: The Unofficial History of the Academy Awards, Edith Head was presented her Academy Award for Best Costume Design for The Sting by Twiggy and Peter Falk. "Just imagine," said Head during her acceptance speech, "dressing the two handsomest men in the world and then getting this."

Neil Simon and Marsha Mason presented the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay to David S. Ward for The Sting.

Shirley MacLaine and Walter Matthau presented the Academy Award for Best Director to George Roy Hill for The Sting.

Elizabeth Taylor presented the Best Picture Oscar for The Sting. Producer Julia Phillips said on stage, "You can imagine what a trip this is for a Jewish girl from Great Neck - I get to win an Academy Award and meet Elizabeth Taylor at the same time."

The Sting was the only film for which Robert Redford was ever nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor.

The Sting was the second film on which Paul Newman, Robert Redford and director George Roy Hill teamed up. The trio had first worked together on the hit film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1969.

According to Lawrence J. Quirk's 1996 book Paul Newman, the character of Henry Gondorff was originally little more than a supporting role. When Newman became associated with the project, however, the part was expanded in order to maximize the second on-screen partnership of Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

Paul Newman had been advised to avoid doing comedy films, according to Lawrence J. Quirk's 1996 book Paul Newman, because he didn't have the light touch needed to play comedy. Part of the reason Newman wanted to play Henry Gondorff was to prove that he could play comedy as well as drama.

Paul Newman and Robert Redford were considered Hollywood's most bankable and most attractive leading men at the time they made The Sting.

One of the Oscar®-winning producers of The Sting was Julia Phillips, author of the infamous vitriolic 1991 Hollywood memoir You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again.

In her 1991 memoir You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again producer Julia Phillips said that the one thing she learned while making The Sting was to make sure she always negotiated the width as well as the height of the letters of her name in movie credits. When The Sting came out, she said, "everyone's name is in thick black letters but ours, which are willow thin."

Director George Roy Hill wanted The Sting to be reminiscent of old Hollywood movies from the 1930s and watched a lot of films from that era for inspiration. He also used old issues of The Saturday Evening Post to influence the film's visual style.

George Roy Hill originally wanted actor Richard Boone to play the part of villain Doyle Lonnegan.

The limp that actor Robert Shaw sports throughout The Sting is no affectation. Shaw hurt himself for real when he slipped and fell on a handball court just before shooting began. Director George Roy Hill decided to incorporate the injury into the film.

According to producer Julia Phillips, Robert Redford was concerned that he wasn't acting in The Sting but only doing a lot of running around. At the end of shooting, director George Roy Hill gave Redford a sculpture of the Warner Bros. cartoon character the Road Runner made out of nails as a joke. It was inscribed: IF YOU CAN'T BE GOOD BE FAST.

The Sting heavily utilized composer Scott Joplin's turn-of-the-century Ragtime music throughout even though the action takes place in the 1930s – many years after the Ragtime trend had been popular. Director George Roy Hill felt that despite the musical anachronism, the lightness of Joplin's music perfectly captured the playful tone of the story.

Director George Roy Hill deliberately avoided using extras in most of The Sting. While studying old gangster films of the 1930s he noticed that there were rarely any extras in the scenes, and he wanted to give The Sting a similar feel.

According to Paul Newman, one afternoon of friendly drinks together triggered a series of competitive practical jokes between Paul Newman and George Roy Hill. Hill invited Newman to his office for a drink one afternoon. Just before, however, Hill told Newman that he had no beer or vodka and asked him to pick some up and bring it with him. Newman agreed. Later, Newman sent Hill a bill for $8.00. Hill responded to the bill by sending Newman a three page letter about the nature of friendship and how Newman had abused it. Newman responded to that by cutting Hill's desk in half with a chainsaw and leaving a note that said: "This isn't about friendship, it's about $8.00. I may detonate the entire bungalow next time, so I wouldn't mess around." Later, Newman received a bill from Universal Studios in the amount of $800 to pay for the damage to the desk. Newman never paid.

Screenwriter David Ward was inspired to write The Sting while doing research on pickpockets. That led him to learn about con artists known as confidence men, whose large-scale cons depend on their winning the trust or confidence of their intended marks.

Originally screenwriter David Ward was supposed to direct The Sting - it would have been his first film as a director. However, star Robert Redford insisted on someone more experienced behind the camera before he would sign on to play Johnny Hooker.

When George Roy Hill was first trying to interest Paul Newman in playing the part of experienced con man Henry Gondorff, Newman thought that he wasn't right for it. While Newman loved the script, he thought that the person playing Gondorff should be much older.

David Ward listened to a lot of blues music from the 1930s and 40s while writing The Sting.

According to Sting co-star Ray Walston, Paul Newman decided to play a joke on Robert Redford while shooting the film. Both actors drove Porsches and lavished attention on them obsessively. One day while Redford was gone, Newman took the keys to his co-star's Porsche and hid the car making Redford think that someone had stolen it.

George Roy Hill wanted an unknown face to play Robert Redford's love interest, Loretta, so that audiences wouldn't project any pre-conceived ideas onto her character. The actress chosen to play her, Dimitra Arliss, heard that some Universal executives didn't think she was pretty enough to be Redford's love interest, but Hill fought for her.

Screenwriter David Ward defines "The Sting" as the moment a con man separates a mark from his money.

John Scarne, a one-time magician known as an authority on card games and tricks, was used as a technical consultant and poker game hand double on The Sting.

Co-producer Tony Bill was an antique car buff who helped round up several period cars to use in The Sting. One of them was his own one-of-a-kind 1935 Pierce Arrow, which served as Lonnegan's (Robert Shaw) private car.

When The Sting first aired on television following its theatrical release, it scored a record share (61) of the viewing audience which was a huge number.

The art work used in the credits and inter-titles for The Sting were inspired by The Saturday Evening Post, a weekly publication that enjoyed its biggest popularity during the 1930s, the time period in which the story takes place.

In addition to winning an Academy Award for his adaptation of the musical score of The Sting, Marvin Hamlisch also won two additional Oscars the same night for his work on The Way We Were.

Legendary costume designer Edith Head won her eighth and final Academy Award for her work on The Sting.

When The Sting was finished, Universal could tell that it had something very special on its hands. The high hopes that everyone had had for the reunion of Butch and Sundance had been realized tenfold. All of the elements came together beautifully on The Sting: the cast, the script, the playful tone, the music and the stylistic elements. Everything worked, and it seemed to everyone that The Sting was sure to be a crowd pleaser at the box office.

Universal released The Sting over the Christmas holidays in 1973, and the reaction was immediate - it was a huge hit. Audiences loved seeing Robert Redford and Paul Newman together again in a fresh original comedy. They also loved The Sting's famous trick ending. Many people would return to the theater a second time or more to watch the film again just to go back and look for anything they may have missed during the first viewing, which certainly didn't hurt the box office receipts. "One of the things George [Roy Hill] had...was that he understood the value of surprises," said Robert Redford looking back on the film in a 2005 interview. "He would throw a surprise at the audience. Just when the audience thought they had something figured out, he'd go right or left..." In order for the film to work, according to writer David Ward, the audience had to be fooled. "The trick was not just in working the con game," he said according to the 2009 book Paul Newman: A Life by Shawn Levy, "but in conning the audience as well...You didn't want people leaving the theater saying, 'Well, that was nice, but I'd never fall for anything like that.'"

The plan to reunite the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid team in The Sting exceeded everyone's expectations and was a memorable time for all involved. "It was a great experience," said Robert Redford in 2005. "First of all, the cast was terrific. Everybody loved each other. We had a great time...We all knew we were in the hands of a master craftsman...and everybody got so completely into their part." The Sting turned out to be the highest grossing film of the year. Its stylish elegance and sense of fun helped set the standard for the modern caper film, and its influence is still felt as it ranks among the best comedy films ever made.

Famous Quotes from THE STING

"Luther said I could learn from you. I already know how to drink." – Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) to Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman)

"Glad to meet you, kid. You're a real horse's ass." – Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) to Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford)

"Not only are you a cheat. You're a gutless cheat as well." – Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) to Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman)

"Sit down and shut up, will you? Try not to live up to all my expectations." – FBI Agent Polk (Dana Elcar) to Snyder (Charles Durning)

"Sorry I'm late. I was taking a crap." – Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman), pretending to be drunk as he arrives at a poker game.

"I don't even know you."
"You know me. I'm the same as you. It's two in the morning and I don't know nobody."
--Loretta (Dimitra Arliss) and Johnny (Robert Redford)

"Doyle, I KNOW I gave him four THREES. He had to make a SWITCH. We can't let him get away with that."
"What was I supposed to do -- call him for cheating better than me, in front of the others?"
Floyd (Charles Dierkop) to Doyle (Robert Shaw)

"Who told you this guy was in here?"
"Nobody. I just know what kind of woman he likes. Going to check all the joy houses till I find him."
"Oh, well maybe I could help you, if you tell me his name."
"I doubt it. Which way are the rooms?"
"Right through there. But I wouldn't go in there if I were you."
Billie (Eileen Brennan) to Lt. William Snyder (Charles Durning)

Compiled by Andrea Passafiume

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