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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Retro review: The Sting at the Fox Theater

    Press Photo
    Press Photo

    On the last day of summer, a real treat was in store for any Tucsonans who happened to be in the know. At the Fox Tucson Theatre, on a hot afternoon, a cool respite was available on Congress Street downtown. As part of the Fox Theatre’s series of classic film showings, the 1973 classic “The Sting” was playing. On all levels, the experience was fantastic.

    “The Sting” would be fun enough to watch on a tiny black-and-white TV, but the venue of this particular showing made the movie really come alive. To both newcomers and native Tucsonans, the Fox Theatre should be at the very top of your places-to-go list. Opened in 1930, the Fox is a good old-fashioned movie house — tremendous, beautiful and classy. You can even sit on a balcony in the huge, high-ceilinged viewing room. Upstairs is a lounge and plenty of concessions, as well as memorabilia for interested parties. Check out the schedule and attend concerts, comedian acts and even a ballet— but nothing compares to the magic of watching a film in the grand type of venue it was made to be shown in.

    In choosing “The Sting,” the Fox created the perfect marriage of film and venue. Set in 1936, there’s a real feeling that if the characters in “The Sting” had been in Tucson they might have stopped at the Fox if they wanted to catch a flick.

    For those unfamiliar with the story, Robert Redford plays a petty con man who hits a courier for a big time mobster, played by Robert Shaw. When his partner is killed by the vengeful mob, Redford’s character seeks out a master of the “big con,” played by Paul Newman, to take his revenge by pulling the biggest con of their lives. A series of twists and turns ensues that leaves most people pleasantly scratching their heads until the end, when the con men spring what is perhaps the best sting in all of cinema history on the mobster, the cops and the audience.

    “The Sting” is just plain fun from start to finish. Watching grifters at work in a gloriously grimy 1930s Illinois is the best kind of vicarious living you can ever experience. The banter and action are funny, and the affable nonchalance of the con men is surprisingly believable. Their devil-may-care attitude plays well against the toughness of Shaw’s character and his mob, and the intricate planning and occasional furious improvisation are both a cerebral treat and a guilty pleasure. Even for those audience members who pride themselves on solving puzzles, the perfect structure of Redford and Newman’s con makes it incredibly hard to crack. Don’t sweat it too much, though, because getting stung by “The Sting” is more than half the fun.

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