7.0/10
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97 user 61 critic

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.

Director:

Stephen Frears

Writers:

Jim Thompson (novel), Donald E. Westlake (screenplay)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Anjelica Huston ... Lilly Dillon
John Cusack ... Roy Dillon
Annette Bening ... Myra Langtry
Jan Munroe ... Guy at Bar
Robert Weems Robert Weems ... Racetrack Announcer
Stephen Tobolowsky ... Jeweler
Jimmy Noonan ... Bartender
Richard Holden Richard Holden ... Cop
Henry Jones ... Simms
Michael Laskin ... Irv
Eddie Jones ... Mintz
Sandy Baron ... Doctor
Lou Hancock ... Nurse
Gailard Sartain ... Joe
Noelle Harling 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA | Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 January 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ambiciones prohibidas See more »

Filming Locations:

Arizona, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$125,195, 21 January 1991, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$13,446,769
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Cineplex-Odeon Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

On a late 2013 interview, Anjelica Huston described this role as the most challenging one of her career. See more »

Goofs

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

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

Soundtracks

Heartbreak Highway
(uncredited)
Performed by Keith Whitley
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Great Writing, Acting Make This A Superior 'Noir'
12 January 2007 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

Here is a modern-day "film noir," if I ever saw one. You get sleazy characters with no morals, brutal attitudes, some interesting photography and a story that is not exactly a happy one - all the ingredients of a good noir. Since the film is a 1990 one and not the '40s and '50s (in which purists think that's the only period for noirs), you also get nudity and profanity.

The best part of the film, to me, is the fact that the three leading characters are so interesting. You never know what these intriguing characters are going to do next. There is an odd mother-son relationship, too - very odd, between John Cusack and Angelica Huston who play "Lilly and Roy Dillon." The third person among this trio of "grifters" (scam artists) is played by Annette Bening, who never looked prettier or demonstrated her lack of morals better than she did here as the wicked "Myra Langtry." You can see all of Bening in this movie, and I mean all. Huston, on the other hand, tries to look sexy but is too hard-looking and certainly no competition for Bening, in age or looks. But Angelica is a terrific actress and I thought her character, was easily the most interesting of the three leads. Cusack, meanwhile, gives an underrated performance: one of the best in his career.

Three supporting guys in here are fantastic: Pat Hingle as "Bobo Justus," J.T. Walsh as "Cole," and Charles Napier as "Gloucester Hebbing." Overall, this is a wonderful cast that does full justice to this unusual crime story.

The story has a mean edge to it most of the way, but that's the style of writer Jim Thompson, who is a very good crime author who wrote the novel on which this movie is based. He has written several fascinating books. Donald Westlake, who wrote the screenplay, is a prolific crime story writer.

There is not a lot of action in this film but when it occurs, it is shocking and brutal. This movie always entertains me every time I view it.


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