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The Grifters (1990)

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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)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Weems ...
Racetrack Announcer
Richard Holden ...
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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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


Crime | Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

25 January 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ambiciones prohibidas  »

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?


Anjelica Huston and John Cusack accepted much less than their usual fees just to be in this movie See more »


At the end of the movie when Lilly is leaving Roy's apartment with his money, blood is clearly visible on her knees and calves. But moments later when she is going down in the elevator, her legs are clean. 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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Features Ms. Pac-Man (1981) 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

Juicy piece of neo-noir
24 April 2003 | by (fairview, nj) – See all my reviews

THE GRIFTERS (1990) ***1/2 John Cusack, Anjelica Huston, Annette Bening, Pat Hingle, J.T. Walsh, Charles Napier. Donald Westlake's slick, serpentine screenplay adaptation of noir author Jim Thompson's novel offers up a juicy, ripe slice of pulp fiction with hip Cusack a slick con artist strictly small time, Huston as his duplicitous, estranged Mobbed up mother on the take and Bening as his slinky gal pal with a few cards up her collective sleeve.

Excellently executed in the rhythms of a perfectly coiled con game about to be sprung with slick precision thanks to fine acting all around and a jolting climax thanks to a steady helm by director Stephen Frears.

15 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Annette Bening mistaken for John Cusack's mom? bonheura
'Pe.. pe..pe...permanent damage' jaypeefriend
The ending barfly467
Just Yuck! anjelica1966
Annette's a babe? I was surprised... gcior1
Why did she get 10.000? Why did she leave all the money behind? unclebob-7
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