The Grifters (1990)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  25 January 1991 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 19,978 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 89 user | 53 critic | 18 from

A small-time conman has torn loyalties between his estranged mother and new girlfriend--both of whom are high-stakes grifters with their own angles to play.



(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Weems ...
Racetrack Announcer
Richard Holden ...
Sandy Baron ...
Lou Hancock ...
Noelle Harling ...
Nurse Carol Flynn


Lily works for a bookie, placing bets to change the odds at the track. When her son is hospitalized after an unsuccessful con job and resultant beating, she finds that even an absentee parent has feelings for her child. This causes her own job to go wrong as well. Each of them faces the down side of the grift. Written by John Vogel <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Seduction. Betrayal. Murder. Who's Conning Who?


Crime | Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

25 January 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Svindlarna  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$13,446,769 (USA)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The stock con Myra describes to Roy when they are in La Jolla is a variation on the "Wire" con used in The Sting (1973). See more »


Bobo appears to punch Lilly so hard that her shoes disappear. The punch in her gut drops her to the floor. The next shot shows her on the floor but her shoes are nowhere to be seen. See more »


[first lines]
Voice-over: Around the country the bookies pay off winners at track odds. It's dangerous when a long shot comes in. Unless you have somebody at the tracks to lower those odds.
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Referenced in Saturday Night Live: The Best of David Spade (2005) See more »


Performed by Dreamworld
Words & Music by Pete Theodore and Emilie A. Bernstein (as Emily Bernstein)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

An unacknowleged classic
3 April 1999 | by (Jersey Shore, USA) – See all my reviews

When I casually flipped to this film (without even knowing what it was) I at first thought it was an exceptionally good film-noir. You might say the film snuck up on me- I was utterly unprepared for what I was about to see. I was drawn in closer and closer to the tangled web the three characters are stuck in, and utterly mesmerised by the performances. I don't think I have ever been so enthralled by a movie. After the intensely disturbing ending- which is not arbitrary, no matter what some of the reviews complained- I found myself unable to sleep. Rarely does a film have such an effect on me. THE GRIFTERS really does have to be seen to be totally understood; word fail one so easily when discussing great art.

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