The Sting (1973)


Two grifters team up to pull off the ultimate con. (IMDb)
Nothing flashy here, but not a thing off or out of place either: the sets (within sets), soundtrack, cinematography, and scene transitions expertly craft the 30s-era stage, the script is stacked with slick dialogue and cool cons and some comedy too (see Henry at the poker game), and the talent hits at all home. A deeper dive into the lives of the leads would’ve been a great cherry on top (gimme more lines like this one: “I’m the same as you. It’s two in the morning and I don’t know nobody”).
7.5/10 (Really Good)


The Hustler (1961)


An up-and-coming pool player plays a long-time champion in a single high-stakes match. (IMDb)
A sports movie that doesn’t end but begins with the big game, and one in which the protagonist loses, at that, setting off a somber character study headed by Newman’s strong central turn. Claustrophobic, smoke-filled indoor settings and black and white cinematography help set the melodramatic mood, while endless quotable monologues (“Eddie, you’re a born loser”) carry the film along. Some of the emotional peaks feel a little unfounded though (the late death could’ve been foreshadowed more).
7.5/10 (Really Good)


The Towering Inferno (1974)


At the opening party of a colossal, but poorly constructed, office building, a massive fire breaks out that threatens to destroy the tower and everyone in it. (IMDb)
The disaster drama here is excellent, adeptly building from a spark of discomfort and brief but torturous dramatic irony to an epic and arduous fight for survival featuring plenty of exciting plot turns and equal amounts small triumphs and terrifying tragedies (Bigelow’s futile run through the fire is a searing memory). Throw in great turns from Newman and co., hints of intriguing building specification scandal, and solid visuals and you have yourself a great action-thriller.
7.5/10 (Really Good)