Sting Question

The Paul Newman/Robert Redford movie.

Why wasn’t Lonnigan after Hooker’s friend, Joe Leary? He’s the one who, in the con that took the 8 K from the numbers runner in Chicago, stole Luther Coleman’s wallet and put the entire scam in motion. They new it was a scam, since they killed Luther and were looking for Hooker. Why weren’t they looking for Leary also?

(FYI, Joe Leary is the guy who gets a new nose at Lou Boudreau’s place by Detective Snyder, in case you didn’t remember.)

It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but if memory serves, it is explained that Luther (before being killed) leaks that Hooker was one of the accomplices. But doesn’t mention Leary.

Lonnigan’s men only have a lead on Hooker for having ripped him off. It would make sense that they would have intended to beat/torture Hooker before killing him to get him to squeal about Leary. But based on that alley scene, that doesn’t really seem like the plan (unless she was intending to wing him before killing him).

I don’t remember it that way at all. Lonnigan’s men get a line on the con from a “tipster”. Since they know about the con, whoever tipped them would have to know about how the con was performed. Leary’s “cutting” of Luther’s leg is a key component of the con.

When the cop (Snyder) catches up to Hooker later that evening, he knew about the con, and that Luther and Hooker were the ones that conned the runner. Leary is in that scene, too, but he’s not even considered by the cop as someone involved in the con.

It’s weird. The knowledge of the con and how it worked would have had to include Leary’s part.

Nitpick: Erie, not Leary.

It’s a good question. I just happened to watch this a few weeks ago and it never occurred to me.
I suppose you could explain it away that Hooker and Luther were a well-known and long-standing con team, but Erie didn’t regularly work with them, or they brought in various different people for cons needing a third player, so it wasn’t a given that he was involved. I dunno though.

Thanks for the correction. I always thought it was Leary, and never checked IMDB for confirmation.

As for the question at hand. I’ve tried to think about this from any angle that would not include Erie in the explanation of the con. I can’t.

If the runner who was eventually killed was questioned before his demise, he would have explained how he came to get involved with Hooker and Luther. That always includes the mugger (i.e. Erie).

Even if Erie wasn’t a Coleman regular, I would think a local tipster would be able to finger Erie quite easily. Even if Erie wasn’t readily identifiable, the third man would have to be exposed as a role in the con. Finding that out may take more time, but Lonnigan had no problem taking the time. “We must discourage this sort of thing. Ya folla?”

Not a major plot hole, but it still bugs me. Especially since Snyder found out about it, stopped Hooker and Erie on the street, and focused his attention on Hooker. The thing about this scene that bugged me was that Erie didn’t show any concern that he was also fingered and would be shaken down, but Snyder implies that he knows he was a part of it with his parting comment, "Relax,“Erie” (I always thought he said “Jerry” here, but it looks like I was wrong), “I’ll bill ya.”

This has actually bugged me since I first saw the film when it first came out – everyone acts as if Erie isn’t even there. He’s necessary for the con, and he gives Redford’s character someone to talk to, but he isn’t considered when Hooker gets shaken down by the cops, and Lonnigan doesn’t send his men out after him. And Hooker doesn’t associate all that much with him in Chicago, except to say that Lonnigan loves his character.

I think the easy answer is that Erie KNOWS that the guys that whacked Luther are looking for the other ‘players’ in the con. That’s why he’s in Chicago - he’s on the lam.

As for Snyder not hassling him early on, I imagine that’s as simple as EDrie knows he’s paid up on his protection from Snyder. And that Snyder may know about his part in the con, which is where the billing comment comes in.

I’ve noticed this too. Erie’s part in the con is right at the beginning. He “attacks” Luther and then takes off. It’s Coleman and Hooker who have the only interaction with the mark.

So the only reason I can figure why Erie escapes retribution (from Lonnigan especially) is that he was such a minor player. Either the numbers runner didn’t get a good look at him, or more likely, the audience didn’t. The movie is complicated enough already. Do you really want people in the audience thinking “why are they chasing after that guy, too? Oh wait, is he the one who stabbed the other guy, but they were faking it so he wasn’t really stabbed so this guy must have been working with them?” There’s enough new stuff happening that people aren’t going to cast their minds back to reinterpret what they already think they saw. At least, not yet.

I didn’t notice this the first time I saw the film. I figure that means the filmmakers got away with it.