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The Grifters (1990)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  4 January 1991 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 19,749 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 16 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Weems ...
Racetrack Announcer
Richard Holden ...
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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 »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

4 January 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Svindlarna  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$13,446,769 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


John Cusack was a big fan of the book and tried to option the rights when he was still in high school. 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.
See more »


Features Ms. Pac-Man (1981) See more »


Performed by Dreamworld
Words & Music by Pete Theodore and Emilie A. Bernstein (as Emily Bernstein)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Anjelica steals the show
4 July 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Stephen Frears directs this amazing adaption of a Jim Thompson book, which deals with three grifters (a person who swindles one by means of deception or fraud) who are tied to each other relationship-wise. Roy Dillion (John Cusack) is a small town grifter recuperating after a punch in the stomach for being found cheating. He finds his loyalties torn between his girlfriend and estranged mother (Annette Benning and Anjelica Huston, respectively), both of which are big time high-stakes grifters. This film is tense, exiting, and well-acted, but make no mistake about it, even though Cusack is more or less the main character, this IS Anjelica Huston's movie through and through. Her acting in this seems to shine so brightly and generally be on a higher plateau than either Cusack or Benning can hope to ascend to in the film. One of my favorite movies.

My Grade: A

DVD Extras: Commentary with Director Stephen Frears, Screenwriter Donald Westlake and Actors John Cusack and Angelica Huston; 16 minute Making of featurette; The Jim Thompson Story featurette; Publicity and Production stills); and Trailers for "Serendipity", "High Fidelity", Grosse Point Blank", & "40 Days And 40 Nights"

Eye Candy: The future Mrs. Warren Beatty shows everything

27 of 34 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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