It's probably no surprise that a movie about conmen involves quite a bit of cunning and cleverness. But the amount of cleverness you see in this movie is probably beyond most movies you're bound to watch. Even more than forty years later, The Sting has a way of totally surprising audiences at every turn.
Every time you think that Henry Gondorff and Johnny Hooker have been outsmarted, they tend to pull the rug right out from under you and say, "Gotcha!" The effect of all this cleverness is that we end up feeling almost as conned as Doyle Lonnegan. (The main difference is that we get to enjoy being conned without losing all our money in the process.)
Questions About Cunning and Cleverness
Who do you think is cleverer, Johnny or Henry? Why?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how clever do you think Doyle Lonnegan is? Why?
Were you surprised by the end of this movie? Why or why not? At what point did you realize (or not realize) what was going to happen?
Do you think the ending of this movie is realistic? Would everything really go so smoothly in real life? Why or why not?
Chew on This
In The Sting, we realize that cleverness isn't really that valuable compared to ruthlessness.
The Sting reminds us that no matter how smart we think we are, it's always possible for someone to outsmart us.