With the help of a talking freeway billboard, a wacky weatherman tries to win the heart of an English newspaper reporter, who is struggling to make sense of the strange world of early 1990s Los Angeles.
Richard E. Grant
Wealthy native Brit Lawrence Jamieson, living in Beaumont-sur-Mer on the French Riviera, earns most of his money through big cons on wealthy unsuspecting women. With the help of his associates -- corrupt police Inspector Andre, who provides him most of his intel, and his butler Arthur -- he pulls scams such as pretending to be a foreign deposed prince who needs money to finance a secret war to liberate his people. Beaumont-sur-Mer, and thus his world, is invaded by brash American Freddy Benson, another con man whose targets are also wealthy unsuspecting women. Lawrence believes Freddy is the Jackal, a con man whose true identity is unknown but who is known to be working his way through Europe. While Lawrence works on thousands of dollars per scam, Freddy works only on tens or if he is lucky hundreds of dollars. Lawrence's efforts to get Freddy out of his territory are unsuccessful, so when Freddy figures out that Lawrence is a con man like he is, he decides to blackmail Lawrence to ... Written by
According to the DVD commentary, when Freddy is in jail, trying to remember Lawrence's name, the entire scene was improvised by Steve Martin. Frank Oz was crouched out of camera range and tapped Anton Rodgers on the foot to interrupt Martin when Oz felt that he had gone as far as he could with the improv. See more »
When Lawrence Jamison goes to Switzerland, the sign in the train station reads "ZURICH". It should read "ZÜRICH" with an umlaut. See more »
English Sailor #1:
[to a 'wheelchair-bound' Freddie, as Lawrence tries to goad him into getting up and dancing... two sailors are watching and one calls out to Freddie]
Oy! Oy mate! Who's the asshole!
English Sailor #2:
Get up and dance, he says! I'd like to smack him one!
See more »
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
entertaining without being offensive in any way, and features some
performances and-- filmed on location in the French Riviera-- some
cinematography by Michael Ballhaus. Made in 1988, this film not only
up well, but seems so refreshing after a decade of `American Pies' and
such fare featuring one witless, forgettable `talent' after another. It's
reminder that true comedy can have sophistication without necessarily
sophisticated, and that real humor is timeless. This is stuff that was
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
of dinner and twenty dollars, using the old
ploy. On that same train, however, observing Freddy's operation from
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
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
sums of money in order to `save' his country from the Communists, an
unspecified opposition, or whatever else will work. Furthermore, it's
a lot of time and effort to get to where he's at, and he's not about to
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
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
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
a wealthy American named Janet Colgate (Glenne Headly), who will become
focus of more than just a little attention before it's all over. it
a contest between the suave Lawrence Jamieson and the unruly Freddy
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
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
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
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
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
`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
one of his schemes; call him a con man with scruples. And Caine plays him
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
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
action is an absolute riot. As he did so successfully in his stand-up
Martin parlays a facial expression combined with the most erratic
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
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
The supporting cast includes Barbara Harris (Fanny), Ian McDiarmid
and Dana Ivey (Mrs. Reed). Funny and thoroughly entertaining, `Dirty
Scoundrels,' with it's contrasting comedic styles and polished
is a minor classic in it's own right. A winner from the Land of Oz,
Caine and Martin are the reigning Royalty, this is one comedy that will
definitely continue to withstand the test of time. 8/10.
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