The highlight

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German title The highlight
Original title The sting
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1973
length 129 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director George Roy Hill
script David S. Ward
production Tony Bill ,
Julia Phillips ,
Michael Phillips
music Scott Joplin
camera Robert Surtees
cut William H. Reynolds

Successor  →
Two cooked crooks

The Sting (Original title: The Sting ) is a Ganoven- comedy by director George Roy Hill from 1973. It tells the story of two con artists who develop a sophisticated plan to go to a Mafia revenge -Boss that a mutual friend murdered. By means of a fake betting office , the gang boss should be relieved by a large amount. The undertaking is made more difficult by several contract killers and a corrupt police officer.

The film was a huge success and won seven Academy Awards , including the main categories of Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. It grossed more than 160 million US dollars , making it the most financially successful film of 1974. The film started in Germany on April 11, 1974.


Chicago 1936: Young con artist Johnny Hooker and his veteran colleague Luther Coleman defraud a money messenger named Mottola. Luther, disguised as a rich man, fakes the theft of his wallet. He asks Mottola to quickly deliver a larger amount - intended as protection money - to a certain location for him. Johnny shows him that he should hide his money, wrapped in a handkerchief, in his pants, and he cleverly exchanges the wrapped money from Mottola for a parcel of worthless paper. Mottola gets into a taxi and is surprised that someone has entrusted him with so much money. Instead of delivering the money as agreed, he drives in the opposite direction and notices that the two set him up and relieved him of eleven thousand dollars .

Johnny buys a red suit with the money, picks up a friend and goes to play roulette with her . In the process, he becomes the victim of a fraud and gambled away $ 3,000 of his entire share of the fraudulent money. He then visits Luther and hands him and Joe Erie their shares of the $ 11,000. Luther wants to withdraw from the trickery and pursue legal employment in the trucking company of his cousin in Kansas. He recommends Hooker to visit his former partner Henry Gondorff. Before Hooker can do this, Snyder from the fraud department picks him up and demands from Hooker a share of the crooked money. But he only receives counterfeit money .

Doyle Lonnegan is the biggest gang boss of a syndicate in New York and Chicago, Mottola was one of his messengers. When Lonnegan learns of the incident with Mottola, he has him killed. The Lonnegan killers also kill Luther by throwing him out of the window. When Johnny drives to Luther that evening, he learns of his colleague's death. Fearing for his own life, Hooker fled the city and got in touch with Luther's former partner, Henry Gondorff. The experienced fraudster, who runs a brothel and a children's carousel with his girlfriend , has degenerated into an alcoholic, but still knows all the tricks.

In order to get effective revenge on Lonnegan, they target what is most important to Lonnegan: his money. Since Lonnegan cannot be outwitted with simple tricks, the two develop a complicated plan. First of all, they need capital for the decisive blow. Henry, dressed richly and neatly, is sitting - accompanied by his girlfriend and Hooker - on the express train and has Lonnegan's wallet with up to $ 20,000 in content stolen from his girlfriend. With the money he buys himself into a poker game with the gang boss and three other players through the conductor . He can defeat this through drunkenness and professional cheating and is the last player to defeat Lonnegan, although he also cheats himself and thus owes Henry 15,000 dollars from the pot, since he believes he left his wallet in the compartment. Johnny, who calls himself Kelly, points out the hoax to Lonnegan and can thus gain his trust.

For this fraud, Lonnegan now wants to take revenge on Henry. Johnny leads him to bet large sums of money on horse bets in Henry's newly established betting office in a former pool hall off the street in order to ruin the latter. Since Johnny pretends to know an employee of the telegraph office who forwards the race results to the betting offices, he can - as he tells Lonnegan - announce the winning horses of the races before the announcer announces them over the radio. In reality, the betting office is just a facade, the speaker sits in a small adjoining room and reads out the results of the races with a time delay so that the impression is created that it is a live broadcast . As proof of reliability, Jonny lets him make a test bet for $ 2,000 and it wins. In parallel, Lonnegan's killer is looking for Hooker and his friend for the fraud. However, this remains unsuccessful. Lonnegan whistles back the hit men and sets Salino, his best hit man, on them. He warns the other two not to look any further for Hooker.

The plan is now complicated by the fact that the corrupt police officer Snyder Hooker and his buddy are on the trail of the fake money handed over to him. But Hooker had not informed Gondorff about this. In order to avoid problems with Snyder, he is lavishly led to believe that an FBI unit is allegedly pursuing Gondorff and integrating Snyder into the plans. Hooker is forcibly turned into a mole by the wrong officers in front of Snyder's eyes , who has to announce the right time for an action in the betting shop. The viewer is left in the dark about this juggling.

Another problem arises: Lonnegan wants to meet the Western Union telegraph employee personally. In order to present Lonnegan to a credible telegraph operator in an office, Kid Twist and Johnny have to thread yet another scam. With the help of a staged painting job in the real telegraph office, you can send an employee on an extended lunch break and Kid takes his place in the office for a short time. Lonnegan does not become suspicious of his visit. A second test bet with $ 15,000, however, deliberately failed due to a queue in front of the counter.

One of the two killers originally scheduled for Johnny is waiting for Johnny in front of a café. He escapes him with the help of the café service via the ladies' room and can escape from a dead end via the sewer system. Just as the killer has lost Johnny's trail, Salino shoots him because she does not tolerate any interference on her behalf.

Johnny gets closer to the waitress who helped him escape and spends the night with her. When he wakes up the next morning, she has already left. He also leaves the house and sees her approaching him in a deserted side street. Behind him lurks a man who pulls out his revolver and shoots the woman from the café. The shooter turns out to be a friend of Gondorff. He explains to the irritated Johnny Hooker that Gondorff used him to protect Hookers and that the waitress from the café was the hit man Loretta Salino.

After Henry and Johnny finally got Lonnegan to bet $ 500,000 on the victory of a certain horse, the latter learns that they had made the wrong bet: Kid, the wrong telegraph employee, explains to Lonnegan that "placing" the bet is not a bet Victory was meant. Rather, he should have placed second . Lonnegan is furious and demands his money back when the trap snaps shut. The alleged FBI agents storm the betting shop. Henry apparently shoots Johnny as a traitor and is then also apparently shot by the fake FBI agents. Snyder hastily leads Lonnegan away from the scene, without Lonnegan being able to get his money back, so that he does not become involved in the incident. Johnny renounces his share because he would only gamble it away again and leaves town because he is now believed to be dead.


Writer David S. Ward used David Maurer's book The Big Con to develop the script . "The Wire" was actually a common method of gutting wealthy "marks" in the first two decades of the 20th century. The inserted "chapters" The plan (The Set-Up) , Bait (The Hook) , The Call (The Tale) , The Telegram (The Wire) , no more bets (The Shut-Out) and The Sting (The Sting ) correspond exactly to the corresponding phases of the Big Con . The hands of Paul Newman, who uses playing cards to show decorative handles and manipulations, were doubled by card game expert John Scarne , who was sitting under the table.

The forgotten Ragtime - compositions of Scott Joplin from the early 20th century, such as The Entertainer , only a few years before the film was re-known and very popular by this. Marvin Hamlisch was responsible for the arrangements and conducting, and he also recorded the ragtime piano solos. The music producer was Gil Rodin .

The fact that Doyle Lonnegan limps in the film is unimportant for the plot and is not explained in the film. Ray Walston explained in an interview that actor Robert Shaw sprained his ankle while playing a handball game shortly before filming began and was only able to move with a limp. Shaw, Walston said, was so sorry about the matter that he offered director George Roy Hill to reassign the role of Lonnegan without any recourse. Hill declined and instead built the limp into the role.

In 1983 the sequel Two Boiled Out Crooks appeared , which, however, fell short of expectations.


“Blue-eyed star cinema, calculated as synthetically and mechanically as the ragtime Chicago: a musical without music. Redford smiles and shoves the circular saw back on his neck, Newman grins and chews on the cigar, Shaw grumbles and grumbles. That's all very nice, but the seven Oscars are definitely the biggest highlight. "

- Die Zeit , 16/1974

"Intelligent crook comedy full of surprising punchlines, with subtle humor and restrained tension."


The highlight received seven Oscars in 1974 :

The film was also nominated in three other categories:

Other awards:

Blu-ray editions

The highlight is available in Germany in three different Blu-ray editions. In 2012, the production company Universal Pictures published the Collector's Edition on the occasion of its 100th anniversary . This limited edition not only consists of the completely digitally revised image and sound restored from the original film material, but also contains a 40-page color brochure with photos, documents and drawings (digibook). The bonus material on the disc consists of the three “100 Years of Universal” contributions “Restoration of the Classics”, “The 70s”, “The Studio Grounds”, the original cinema trailer and the documentation “The Clou - The Work of Art”.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. DVD Der Clou Special Edition, Documentation The Art of The Sting , 2005.
  2. The sequel two crafty crooks in the Internet Movie Database (English)
  3. Film tips . In: Die Zeit , No. 16/1974
  4. The highlight. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed August 23, 2011 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used