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Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

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Two con men try to settle their rivalry by betting on who can swindle a young American heiress out of $50,000 first.

Director:

Frank Oz
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Popularity
4,771 ( 50)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Steve Martin ... Freddy Benson
Michael Caine ... Lawrence Jamieson
Glenne Headly ... Janet Colgate
Anton Rodgers ... Inspector Andre
Barbara Harris ... Fanny Eubanks
Ian McDiarmid ... Arthur
Dana Ivey ... Mrs. Reed
Meagen Fay ... Lady from Oklahoma
Frances Conroy ... Lady from Palm Beach
Nicole Calfan ... Lady in Dining Car
Aïna Walle Aïna Walle ... Miss Krista Knudsen
Cheryl Pay Cheryl Pay ... Lady with Pearls
Nathalie Auffret Nathalie Auffret ... Marion
Lolly Susi Lolly Susi ... Lady in Rolls Royce
Rupert Holliday-Evans Rupert Holliday-Evans ... English Sailor #1 (as Rupert Holliday Evans)
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Storyline

Wealthy native Brit Lawrence Jamieson, living in Beaumont-sur-Mer on the French Riviera, earns most of his money through big cons on wealthy unsuspecting women. With the help of his associates -- corrupt police Inspector Andre, who provides him most of his intel, and his butler Arthur -- he pulls scams such as pretending to be a foreign deposed prince who needs money to finance a secret war to liberate his people. Beaumont-sur-Mer, and thus his world, is invaded by brash American Freddy Benson, another con man whose targets are also wealthy unsuspecting women. Lawrence believes Freddy is the Jackal, a con man whose true identity is unknown but who is known to be working his way through Europe. While Lawrence works on thousands of dollars per scam, Freddy works only on tens or if he is lucky hundreds of dollars. Lawrence's efforts to get Freddy out of his territory are unsuccessful, so when Freddy figures out that Lawrence is a con man like he is, he decides to blackmail Lawrence to ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Nice guys finish last. Meet the winners.

Genres:

Comedy | Crime

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

14 December 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dos pícaros sinvergüenzas See more »

Filming Locations:

Alpes-Maritimes, France See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,840,498, 16 December 1988, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$42,039,085
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Orion Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Along with all the other Star Wars connections, Ian mcdiarmid, who played Arthur the butler in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels , also was cast in the prime role of playing the evil emperor in the Star Wars series. See more »

Goofs

When Janet and Freddy in his wheelchair are having drinks, Freddy makes a gurgling noise with his drinking straw as if his drink is nearly empty. When they are shown leaving the table his drink is more than half full. See more »

Quotes

Freddy Benson: I've got culture coming out of my ass.
See more »

Crazy Credits

While the names of Stanley Shapiro and Paul Henning appear in the credits as two of this film's three writers, they are actually there just to credit their script for Bedtime Story (1964), of which this is a remake. See more »


Soundtracks

Pick Yourself Up
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Winning Comedy from the Land of Oz
6 March 2002 | by jhcluesSee all my reviews

Director Frank Oz landed the dream team from comedic heaven when Steve Martin and Michael Caine signed on to star in this hilarious comedy of manners and mannerisms, `Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,' a film that manages to be entertaining without being offensive in any way, and features some terrific performances and-- filmed on location in the French Riviera-- some beautiful cinematography by Michael Ballhaus. Made in 1988, this film not only holds up well, but seems so refreshing after a decade of `American Pies' and other such fare featuring one witless, forgettable `talent' after another. It's a reminder that true comedy can have sophistication without necessarily being sophisticated, and that real humor is timeless. This is stuff that was good when it was made, is even better today, and will have you laughing even harder at it twenty, thirty or fifty years from now.

Freddy Benson (Martin) is a small time American con man/aspiring gigolo traveling abroad with his sights set on the Riviera, specifically Beaumont Sur Mer, which he understands is easy pickings for a talent such as his. Why, on the train into town alone, he bilks a compassionate young woman out of dinner and twenty dollars, using the old I'm-saving-up-for-my-dear-old-grandmother's-operation ploy. On that same train, however, observing Freddy's operation from across the aisle, is Lawrence Jamieson (Caine), a big time con artist/gigolo, who as it happens, lives in Beaumont Sur Mer. And instantly, Jamieson looks upon Freddy with disdain; after all, this is a man who has perfected the art of bilking rich young women for sums that fall into five and six digits by successfully masquerading as a Prince or some such Nobility, who needs vast sums of money in order to `save' his country from the Communists, an unspecified opposition, or whatever else will work. Furthermore, it's taken a lot of time and effort to get to where he's at, and he's not about to let the unseemly Freddy Benson cut into his act.

So with the help of his associate ( a local policeman), Inspector Andre (Anton Rodgers), Jamieson sets out to `discourage' Freddy from attempting to get a foothold in Beaumont Sur Mer. But Freddy, it turns out, may not be the unwitting amateur Jamieson presumed him to be-- Andre has just received word that an elusive con artist has arrived in the area; a professional known only as `The Jackal.' And so, the game is afoot; a game that will ultimately bring Jamieson and Freddy closer together, and involve them with a wealthy American named Janet Colgate (Glenne Headly), who will become the focus of more than just a little attention before it's all over. it becomes a contest between the suave Lawrence Jamieson and the unruly Freddy Benson. And the winner? Well, by the end it's clear who the real winner is here-- and without a doubt, it's the audience.

Oz must have had a good time making this movie, because he had all the tools available to him from the best of both worlds. There's the broad, physical humor employed and perfectly delivered by Martin, and the subtle, studied approach that Caine uses. Their styles contrast wonderfully, and Oz certainly makes the most of it. He's put together some scenes that are beyond hilarious, like the one in which Lawrence attempts tutoring Freddy in the art of being suave and sophisticated; or when-- as part of a scam-- Freddy takes on the role of `Ruprecht,' Lawrence's incorrigible, moronic brother. It's in these scenes that Oz seems to give Martin, especially, some free reign, and the rewards are substantial. And it's definitely a joint effort on the part of the two stars; Martin is funny, but it's Caine's response to him that really makes it work. It also demonstrates that Oz knows his territory, and proceeds accordingly.

Caine gives a performance that presents Jamieson as the epitome of charm and experience, in the grand tradition of the likes of David Niven and Cary Grant. This is one smooth operator, and the fact that he lives by a personal `code' that only allows him to bilk the very rich (and only if they `deserve' it), enables you to like him for who and what he is. He's not a guy who's going to let a mark sell the family furniture and car to invest in one of his schemes; call him a con man with scruples. And Caine plays him to perfection.

Martin, however, is the one who really gets to cut loose in the role of Freddy, and without question, he does physical comedy better than anyone since Buster Keaton or Chaplin. Martin can get a laugh just by walking into a room. He invests Freddy with a less than retiring manner, and takes it over the top in his guise as Ruprecht, using his entire body as a vehicle through which he expresses this particular bit of lunacy. And seeing him in action is an absolute riot. As he did so successfully in his stand-up days, Martin parlays a facial expression combined with the most erratic movements of his arms and legs into a visual image that can be indescribably funny. He's one of the select few actor/comedians with a true and innate sense of real comedy, and moreover, he knows how to sell it to his audience.

As the seemingly hapless Janet, Headly does a good job, but it's a role that may have been more conducive to the likes of Melanie Griffith or even Diane Keaton, either of whom would've given the character a decidedly different spin.

The supporting cast includes Barbara Harris (Fanny), Ian McDiarmid (Arthur) and Dana Ivey (Mrs. Reed). Funny and thoroughly entertaining, `Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,' with it's contrasting comedic styles and polished presentation, is a minor classic in it's own right. A winner from the Land of Oz, wherein Caine and Martin are the reigning Royalty, this is one comedy that will definitely continue to withstand the test of time. 8/10.


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