By Scott Ross
One of the best-cast American movies ever made. The pleasures of this quintessential caper-comedy (by David S. Ward under George Roy Hill’s stylish direction) are many, and not the least of them is its parade of great character actors, clearly having a ball. Along with a relaxed Paul Newman and a very appealing (if over-aged) Robert Redford, there’s mob kingpin Robert Shaw, corrupt cop Charles Durning and a supporting cast to die for: Ray Walston, Eileen Brennan, Harold Gould, John Heffernan, Dana Elcar, Jack Kehoe, Robert Earl Jones, Avon Long, and the extraordinary Dimitra Arliss as a diner waitress who isn’t quite what she seems. The art direction by Henry Bumstead beautifully evokes the Depression Era, and Marvin Hamlisch’s use of the Scott Joplin songbook, while technically anachronistic, perfectly captures, and reflects, the spirit of this sunny, cheerfully amoral comedy.
Text copyright 2013 by Scott Ross