After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.
When a mutual friend is killed by a mob boss, two con men, one experienced and one young try to get even by pulling off the big con on the mob boss. The story unfolds with several twists and last minute alterations. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
David S. Ward got the idea for this movie when he was working on the script for Steelyard Blues (1973), which includes a pickpocketing scene. Researching this, Ward found himself reading about con artists. Ward had shown the other screenplay to Tony Bill, so he now gave him an outline of this story. Bill liked it immediately and brought in Julia Phillips and Michael Phillips; the three then produced both films. Ward wrote the script with Robert Redford in mind as Hooker, but Redford initially turned the part down. Even after changing his mind, he didn't expect the movie to be a hit. Robert Shaw got the part of Lonnegan only after Richard Boone and another actor had declined it. George Roy Hill saw the screenplay by accident and asked for the director's job. He routinely showed his projects to Paul Newman, and Newman was pleased to join this one. Hill wanted to film the picture on location, but Henry Bumstead was adamant that it would be much too hard to get the period appearance right; for example, things like lane markings on the streets. In the end, the only location shooting was a few days' worth in Chicago and Los Angeles; most of the exteriors were filmed on Universal's back lot. See more »
Even though Clemens calls the poker game as "table stakes" Lonnegan goes to the bank for more money in the final hand. Clemens is not one to challenge a man such as Lonnegan over a breach of etiquette though. See more »
You see that fella in the red sweather over there? His name's Donnie McCoy. Works a few of the protection rackets for Cunnaro when he's waiting for something better to happen. Donnie and I have known each other since we were six. Take a good look at that face, Floyd. Because if he ever finds out I can be beat by one lousy grifter, I'll have to kill him and every other hood who wants to muscle in on my Chicago operation.
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The opening animated logo for Universal Pictures is in 1930s style, matching the movie's setting, instead of the 1970s version. See more »
I agree 100 percent that this is a wonderful movie. I first saw it over 30 years ago, and it remains vivid in my mind while I can't remember zip about movies I saw last week which others have praised and I found wanting. I can't think of another film about double and triple crosses that deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence with "The Sting" (which doesn't mean that some of the others haven't been good). In addition to all the things that others have praised, one of the most memorable features of this film is the use of a Scott Joplin rag, which both lends a distinctive period touch and adds a sense of fast-paced motion to the action. I'm not much for ranking films -- top five, top ten, top 250 -- but this is one of the best. If you haven't already seen it, drop everything and find the DVD. As pure entertainment, it can't be beat.
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