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The Grifters (1990)

 -  Crime | Drama | Thriller  -  4 January 1991 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 17,500 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 83 user | 47 critic | 18 from Metacritic.com

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.

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(novel), (screenplay)
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Title: The Grifters (1990)

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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 13 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Guy at Bar
Robert Weems ...
Racetrack Announcer
...
Jeweler
...
Bartender
Richard Holden ...
Cop
...
Simms
...
Irv
...
Mintz
Sandy Baron ...
Doctor
Lou Hancock ...
Nurse
...
Joe
Noelle Harling ...
Nurse Carol Flynn
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Storyline

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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

4 January 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Grifters  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$13,446,769 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Character names "Lilly Dillon" and "Myra Langtry" allude to 1800s actress Lilly Langtry. See more »

Goofs

When Lily fires her gun in the motel room, we can see the silencer attached as she raises it, but the shot is not silenced. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Featured in And the Oscar Goes To... (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Heartbreak Highway
(uncredited)
Performed by Keith Whitley
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A seedy underbelly of life exposed for all to see
16 August 1999 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

Years ago, this was one of the films I was quite pleased with myself for seeing. I didn't know much about it, but decided to take a chance on it, with no regrets. From the opening sequence to the end credits I was mesmerized and in awe of events that communicated an entirely alien philosophy. Based on the novel by Jim Thompson, "The Grifters" tells a tale of a world that lies just under the surface of the one we know of. That is of course, if you count yourself among the squares and suckers who often fall prey to the craftsmen of the grift.

With startling precision, intrigue and depth, the story unfolds chronicling the lives of three distinctly different yet intertwined individuals. Their setting and perspective is entirely foreign to the majority of us. The filmmakers portray the grifters' different methods and environments as skilled scam artists. For unless you've had a personal experience having fallen prey or gotten wise to a grifter's ploy, you'll simply have to accept the reality of it. They are out there, waiting for the suckers to be born.

This particularly dark tale is very stylishly directed and moves along at a good pace. Each turn offers another sneak peek into the games played and the tricks pulled. The prey are often unaware of their own victimization as they go on about their business.

Another aspect the film deals with is trust or the lack thereof. Our protagonists spend most of their time scamming, conning and tricking people so much that their sense of trust and decency breaks down. They alienate themselves from everyone, and ultimately can't even trust each other.

And of course, what drama would be complete without a twisted love triangle in the mix with betrayal and murder to keep it interesting. If this doesn't sound like another day at the office, you might just find the workplace of "The Grifters" intriguing. Seeing it today, I enjoyed it as much as I did years ago, before I opened my eyes for a fresh look at the world.


26 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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