Johnny Hooker, a small time grifter, unknowingly steals from Doyle Lonnegan, a big time crime boss, when he pulls a standard street con. Lonnegan demands satisfaction for the insult.
George Roy Hill made choices that would utilize certain stylistic techniques of the 1930s. For instance, he decided to use an old-fashioned Universal logo from the period at the beginning of the film, immediately evoking a nostalgic tone for The Sting. Hill also employed devices such as editing wipes to transition between scenes and iris shots – all stylistic choices that would help place the audience in a 1930s time frame.
According to Paul Newman, one afternoon of friendly drinks together triggered a series of competitive practical jokes between himself and George Roy Hill. Hill invited Newman to his office for a drink one afternoon. Just before, however, Hill told Newman that he had no beer or vodka and asked him to pick some up and bring it with him. Newman agreed. Later, Newman sent Hill a bill for $8.00. Hill responded to the bill by sending Newman a three page letter about the nature of friendship and how Newman had abused it. Newman responded to that by cutting Hill’s desk in half with a chainsaw and leaving a note that said: “This isn’t about friendship, it’s about $8.00. I may detonate the entire bungalow next time, so I wouldn’t mess around.” Later, Newman received a bill from Universal Studios in the amount of $800 to pay for the damage to the desk. Newman never paid.