It's the 1930's Chicago, and Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) is a young, hunky grifter. While doing a con with James Earl Jones' father, they make a big score. The owner of that score is a big time New York mobster he decides to pay them a visit. Exit senior Jones. Hooker wants pay-back. And not to be killed. He needs help.
Hooker enlists the help of Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman). He is wise and jaded. Together they concoct a sting. It has something to do with horse racing. What follows is two hours of the construction and operation of an elaborate scam, the details of which we learn as we go.
A movie like this, a very dense two hours nine, requires some endurance from younger viewers. My 15 year old gave up on it after a half, so I paused it and made him watch the rest later. He liked it a lot. What I liked was the amazing supporting cast. Robert Shaw (Jaws), Ray Walston (Martian and Fast Times), Charles Durning (just about everything), Eileen Brennan (Murder by Death) to name a few. Even Harold Gould, who was on Soap, when Jody was in the hospital having a sex change, (I just finished watching the entire series - a big moment in my life).
Great script, perfect story (that is, it makes complete sense from every character's perspective), top notch acting, and excellent sets and production. I can't say enough about it. Seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, plus three nods. AMRU 4.5.
Hooker: He's not as tough as he thinks.Gondorff: Neither are we.Lonnegan: Your boss is quite a card player, Mr. Kelly; how does he do it?Hooker: He cheats.