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The Grifters (1990)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  4 January 1991 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 19,764 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
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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?


The Arizona motel sequence, from Lilly's approach through her dialogue with the clerk, mirrors that in Psycho (1960) See more »


When Roy visits Lilly in her hotel room to repay his medical expenses, there is a boom mic clearly visible. 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 »


Performed by Dreamworld
Words & Music by Pete Theodore and Emilie A. Bernstein (as Emily Bernstein)
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User Reviews

Worth it
13 October 2001 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

"The Grifters" is a quality piece of work that shows you a world you don't often see. It's a seedy little world, but a fun one to spend two hours in.

Whenever I pass this film on cable, I always stop to watch a few minutes (and often more) because it contains some fantastic acting. Anjelica Houston, John Cusack and Annete Bening act their little tushies off. Cusack's portrayal of a low-level grifter with an Oedipal complex the size of Texas is some of his best work. Based on "American Beauty," everyone knows that Bening can act, but anyone who saw "The Grifters" knew that long ago. She does a bang-up job as (let's be frank) a con-artist slut.

This movie does have a few implausibilities, but nothing that spoils it. Otherwise, nothing but good things to say about this one. Recommended.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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