Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: Lawrence and Freddie are con-men; big-time and small time respectively. They unsuccessfully attempt to work together only to find that this town (on the French Mediterranean coast) aint big enough for the two of them. They agree to a "loser leaves" bet. The bet brings out the best/worse in the two. Interesting twist at the end. Runtime: 110 mins Release Date: 13 Dec 1988
I really don't watch this movie often enough. The few times I've seen it over the years provide superior entertainment, but it's a film I seem to forget about. That shouldn't be the case: it's a terrific movie. I've never met anyone who did NOT like this movie. It seems to appeal to a lot of people, young and old. The three leads - Steve Martin, Michael Caine and Glenn Headley - were all in top form, on top of their "game," so to speak.Martin's facial expressions and physical humor are terrific and Caine played his part magnificently, too. I enjoy Caine <more>
much more in here than Martin and in most films but Steve seems to have the funniest moments in this movie. At any rate, both are superb as antagonists "Lawrence Jamison" Caine and "Freddie Benson" Martin . The two men have the talent to pull off slapstick as well as subtle comedy. Headley, as "Janet Colgate," meanwhile, is a joy to watch and to listen to, with that sweet voice of hers. I can't say more about her without giving away too much but she is not only the objection of attention in the movie, but the key character. These three combine for almost a laugh-a-minute.This also is a good example of how to make a modern-day comedy without all the sleaze and profanity. There is some in here, but not much. Why most comedies do not follow this lead is a sad question. It's still an adult movie about con men, not a film teens and below would enjoy. Frank Oz, who directed other pretty clean-and-funny movies, directed this one.Highly recommended.
Everything clicks in this laugh-out-loud gem. Steve Martin and Michael Caine are in top form as Freddy Benson and Lawrence Jamieson, two con men who agree that this town on the French Mediterranean coast ain't big enough for the both of them. To solve the problem, they agree upon a solution - the first man to swindle $50,000 from a naive young woman gets to stay. The competition brings out the very best of their very worst, with Martin posing as a paraplegic and Caine as a psychiatrist eager to help convince him it's all in his head. Glenne Headly, as the target of the cons, <more>
deserves special mention for her brilliant performance.One of the strongest assets of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" is that the story is interesting enough, with its various twists and turns, that it would work great even without being funny. The laughs - and there are many of them - are a sort of gut-hurting bonus. The scene in which Caine tests the nerves in Martin's legs must rank as one of the most uproarious in film history. This one from director Frank Oz certainly no slouch in the comedy department is not to be missed.
In 1964 Marlon Brando made the film BEDTIME STORY with David Niven and Shirley Jones, about the battle between two rival con-artists on the Riviera, to determine who was going to be the local king of the racket in running the town. It was a good comedy, but while it demonstrated as TEAHOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON had that Brando was an accomplished comic when he wanted to be, somehow it was not as good as it could have been. Yet Brando, Niven, and Jones did excellent work in it.The film was remade in 1988 as DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS, with the leads played by Steve Martin, Michael Caine, and <more>
Glenne Headley. The general feeling is that if the original was a good comedy, the remake was all-around an excellent one.Brando's "Freddy Benson" ran a small con-game racket pretending to be a soldier trying to get money for his grandmother's operation in the U.S. Brando would target young American ladies who were traveling on trains on the Italian - French border, and take them for small sums. But he hoped to go after richer game. The richer game were targeted by Niven's "Lawrence Jamieson", who got large sums from wealthy women who were willing to finance a counter-revolution in a fictitious country he is exiled king of. Niven, of course, does not want competition. He tries to work with Brando for awhile, but Brando strains at the restraint of his distinctly junior partner position. So they agree to a con-artist test on the first subject that comes along: whoever takes her for $10,000.00 will be the winner. Along comes Jones' who they think is the heiress to a soap fortune, and they go after her. In the end, she is not an heiress, and Brando and she go back to America as husband and wife. Niven resigns himself to the sad lonely life of the elite on the Riviera.SPOILERS COMING UP The 1988 version changed the characterizations a bit. Niven sees himself as a patron of the arts, because he was not very good in any of them but now has the money to help support people. Caine does too, but his interest is more controlled - more of a hobby really. He is an organized conman and he has set up a first rate system with his valet and the local police chief. Martin's "Freddie" is far dumber and sloppier than Brando's. He practices the same con-games, and tries to rise above that nonsense, but he lacks any grace to do so. In fact, he blackmails his way into Caine's establishment to become a gentleman conman, and is kept only as an idiot. So was Brando, but Brando was intelligent to see he was being wasted. Martin is just demanding.Certain things were improved by the changes. Shirley Jones was a total innocent who was brought into the Caine - Martin rivalry as a dupe. Glenne Headley's character is more devious, as it turns out, and improves the atmosphere of plot, counter-plot, counter - counter-plot that runs the script. It also enables the conclusion of the story to involve all three principals instead of just one Caine in place of Niven . And, as it turns out, Headley has as low an opinion of Martin's intelligence as Caine does, even if they will be working together.
This film made an impression on me before I even saw it. I was in a theater, and a trailer for "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" came on. While a voice-over talked about the value of movies promoting morality and civility, you saw Martin and Caine strolling along a beachfront, smiling beneficently as they greet passers-by. Then Caine shoved cotton candy into a kids face while Martin pushed a woman off a ledge.It's a great sequence, and is featured on the DVD with its own commentary from director Frank Oz when has that ever happened before? but a little misleading. Actually, while both <more>
men are scoundrels, neither is quite that vile. Caine's Lawrence Jamieson is actually a bit of an altruist, as we find out, with a code of only taking in people who can afford to be taken, and finding ways of spending the money that are not entirely self-serving. Martin's Freddy Benson is less disciplined and more small-time in his cons; he'll steal candy from a baby and tell you it's for his poor sick Gram-Gram if caught, but he is likeable, too, an underdog with little idea how the game is played at the highest levels, but eager to learn.The fact you can like these characters is a compliment to Martin and Caine, as well as director Oz and the team of writers. Tone is everything with a film like this, and as Oz says in his commentary, so important in making the comedy work. He notes he was going for a 1950s feel in the picture, I'm guessing with Hitchcock's "To Catch A Thief" in mind. The great score by Miles Goodman is solid enough to deserve its own CD reissue, with an air of light sophistication that buoys the proceedings on screen. Most importantly, since much of the comedy involves people taking advantage of one another, having everything put forward in such a gossamer manner helps you digest the story without leaving a bad taste.Martin shines in many scenes, especially when playing Ruprecht the idiot man-child and when stuck in jail trying to remember the name of the only man he thinks can bail him out "James Lawrenceton...no, wait, James Jesterton....no, no, it's definitely, um..." I knew Martin could be funny, and with the exception of "All Of Me" this is probably his best comedic performance, but Caine is a revelation. A straight man, yes, but with delicate timing and some clever characterizations that he pulls out of a bag, like an Germanic psychiatrist with some unusual ideas about curing lameness. You forget how good Caine is in comedy, despite his performances in films like this, "Blame It On Rio," and "Without A Clue." Glenne Headly is a revelation as the woman caught in the middle of Jamieson and Benson's scheming, every bit as good as her male counterparts, but say no more.Great actors, great tone, but the plot is the best thing this film has. It's a remake of a 1964 film "Bedtime Story," which teamed Marlon Brando and David Niven for what should have been a dream team but went flat instead. This time, the script is helped by actors who can not only deliver funny lines but make them funnier, and by an ending according to Oz in his commentary, one worked out over several long dinner meetings with Martin that is simply perfect.Finally, Oz needs to be recognized. He was only making his second non-Muppet film here, but the result in my view is one of the best comedies anyone has ever done. He manages to get the best from everyone, including the actors and cinematographer Michael Ballhaus some amazing night shots of the French Rivera waterfront you never tire of looking at , and delivers a rare jewel of a film, a laugh-out-loud comedy that leaves you with a warm feeling inside.Ian McDairmid plays Arthur the butler in this, teaming him with Oz yet again. Almost titled this review "Yoda And Palpatine On The French Riviera;" it's interesting McDairmid plays the one guy in "Scoundrels" who's really on the level.
What a film! "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" has a really clever plot, in which Lawrence, a high-class playboy Michael Caine , and Freddy, a petty con man Steve Martin , make their living by seducing and cheating rich ladies. However, the little French town is too small for both, so they decide to set up a bet in which the loser has to clear the area. Pretty and naive Janet Glenn Headly is the object of their contest, and each one of them engages in ever-more ingenious tricks to try to rip her off and win the bet, yet with unpredictable results.The movie is hilarious, and despite its <more>
15 years' of age, it is as fresh as it has been when it was first produced. Steve Martin of course is the funniest character of all, with his fantastic "Ruprecht" performance being unforgettable. Go ahead and enjoy this film. It is worth it! 9/10.
Jon Monsarrat review: still a classic, intelligent comedy (by johnnymonsarrat)
"Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" is no longer a new film, but it's not showing its age, which I guess is a sign of a classic. I've seen it recently, and was not expecting much, but was pleasantly surprised!With performances by can't-fail actors Steve Martin and Michael Caine, the film is zany, with a little toilet humor but mostly doesn't insult one's intelligence, and is far better than "All of Me" and just short of "A Fish Called Wanda", and "Roxanne", which unlike this film includes some romance.Who should see this film:-- Zany comedy <more>
film lovers: a must-see. If you're new toSteve Martin, try Bowfinger first.-- Safe as a kids / family filmI'll give "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" a surprisingly resilient 9 out of 10.
Director Frank Oz landed the dream team from comedic heaven when Steve Martin and Michael Caine signed on to star in this hilarious comedy of manners and mannerisms, `Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,' a film that manages to be entertaining without being offensive in any way, and features some terrific performances and-- filmed on location in the French Riviera-- some beautiful cinematography by Michael Ballhaus. Made in 1988, this film not only holds up well, but seems so refreshing after a decade of `American Pies' and other such fare featuring one witless, forgettable `talent' after <more>
another. It's a reminder that true comedy can have sophistication without necessarily being sophisticated, and that real humor is timeless. This is stuff that was good when it was made, is even better today, and will have you laughing even harder at it twenty, thirty or fifty years from now.Freddy Benson Martin is a small time American con man/aspiring gigolo traveling abroad with his sights set on the Riviera, specifically Beaumont Sur Mer, which he understands is easy pickings for a talent such as his. Why, on the train into town alone, he bilks a compassionate young woman out of dinner and twenty dollars, using the old I'm-saving-up-for-my-dear-old-grandmother's-operation ploy. On that same train, however, observing Freddy's operation from across the aisle, is Lawrence Jamieson Caine , a big time con artist/gigolo, who as it happens, lives in Beaumont Sur Mer. And instantly, Jamieson looks upon Freddy with disdain; after all, this is a man who has perfected the art of bilking rich young women for sums that fall into five and six digits by successfully masquerading as a Prince or some such Nobility, who needs vast sums of money in order to `save' his country from the Communists, an unspecified opposition, or whatever else will work. Furthermore, it's taken a lot of time and effort to get to where he's at, and he's not about to let the unseemly Freddy Benson cut into his act.So with the help of his associate a local policeman , Inspector Andre Anton Rodgers , Jamieson sets out to `discourage' Freddy from attempting to get a foothold in Beaumont Sur Mer. But Freddy, it turns out, may not be the unwitting amateur Jamieson presumed him to be-- Andre has just received word that an elusive con artist has arrived in the area; a professional known only as `The Jackal.' And so, the game is afoot; a game that will ultimately bring Jamieson and Freddy closer together, and involve them with a wealthy American named Janet Colgate Glenne Headly , who will become the focus of more than just a little attention before it's all over. it becomes a contest between the suave Lawrence Jamieson and the unruly Freddy Benson. And the winner? Well, by the end it's clear who the real winner is here-- and without a doubt, it's the audience.Oz must have had a good time making this movie, because he had all the tools available to him from the best of both worlds. There's the broad, physical humor employed and perfectly delivered by Martin, and the subtle, studied approach that Caine uses. Their styles contrast wonderfully, and Oz certainly makes the most of it. He's put together some scenes that are beyond hilarious, like the one in which Lawrence attempts tutoring Freddy in the art of being suave and sophisticated; or when-- as part of a scam-- Freddy takes on the role of `Ruprecht,' Lawrence's incorrigible, moronic brother. It's in these scenes that Oz seems to give Martin, especially, some free reign, and the rewards are substantial. And it's definitely a joint effort on the part of the two stars; Martin is funny, but it's Caine's response to him that really makes it work. It also demonstrates that Oz knows his territory, and proceeds accordingly.Caine gives a performance that presents Jamieson as the epitome of charm and experience, in the grand tradition of the likes of David Niven and Cary Grant. This is one smooth operator, and the fact that he lives by a personal `code' that only allows him to bilk the very rich and only if they `deserve' it , enables you to like him for who and what he is. He's not a guy who's going to let a mark sell the family furniture and car to invest in one of his schemes; call him a con man with scruples. And Caine plays him to perfection.Martin, however, is the one who really gets to cut loose in the role of Freddy, and without question, he does physical comedy better than anyone since Buster Keaton or Chaplin. Martin can get a laugh just by walking into a room. He invests Freddy with a less than retiring manner, and takes it over the top in his guise as Ruprecht, using his entire body as a vehicle through which he expresses this particular bit of lunacy. And seeing him in action is an absolute riot. As he did so successfully in his stand-up days, Martin parlays a facial expression combined with the most erratic movements of his arms and legs into a visual image that can be indescribably funny. He's one of the select few actor/comedians with a true and innate sense of real comedy, and moreover, he knows how to sell it to his audience.As the seemingly hapless Janet, Headly does a good job, but it's a role that may have been more conducive to the likes of Melanie Griffith or even Diane Keaton, either of whom would've given the character a decidedly different spin.The supporting cast includes Barbara Harris Fanny , Ian McDiarmid Arthur and Dana Ivey Mrs. Reed . Funny and thoroughly entertaining, `Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,' with it's contrasting comedic styles and polished presentation, is a minor classic in it's own right. A winner from the Land of Oz, wherein Caine and Martin are the reigning Royalty, this is one comedy that will definitely continue to withstand the test of time. 8/10.
A delightful exercise in farcical chicanery (by rupie)
I cannot believe that the first time I saw this - one of my favorite comedies - I was not enamored of it. Subsequent viewings have given it an honored place on my roster of great comedies. What fun Caine and Martin must have working with each other on this one; their enthusiasm certainly shows in the results. Best line: "One must know one's limitations, Freddy. You are a moron." Definitely a must-see for comedy aficionados.
Timeless Comedy (by mjw2305)
A wonderfully structured comedy, with a great cast and solid script.Michael Caine is the best con man in town, until Steve Martin turns up and challenges his superiority. They decide that the first one to con money out of Miss Janet Colgate will have the right to the towns many easy targets.With the deal done the con is on, and its a battle of wits, between the two men, with a very surprising winner! Hilarious and fresh as the day it was made.A classic comedy treat 8/10 also watch Heartbreakers, its has a similar theme and is just as good.