Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Nice guys finish last. Meet the winners.

Crime Comedy
110 min     7.114     1988     USA


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


John Chard wrote:
Do you ever have a single thought that originates from above the waist? Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is directed by Frank Oz and written by Dan Launer, Stanley Shapiro and Paul Henning. It stars Michael Caine, Steve Martin, Glenne Headly and Anton Rogers. Music is by Miles Goodman and cinematography by Michael Ballhaus. Two con-men from different ends of the spectrum, prey on women's good nature to fund their lifestyles. Both operating out of the same Mediterranean town, they agree that the town simply isn't big enough for the both of them. They strike a bet where the first one to get fifty thousand out of the chosen female target, gets to stay in town while the other has to leave. A loose remake of Bedtime Story (1964) that starred David Niven and Marlon Brando, Frank Oz's picture is deliciously amoral, sly, clever and very funny. Boosted by the casting of Caine (oily slick) and Martin (live wire bottom feeder), who are both having a wonderful time of it, the film unfolds in a whirl of bluffs, chaos conning and oneupmanship. The story is slight for sure, but as the comedy set-pieces come and go, the ribs are tickled and the surprises that the makers have in store for us late in the day, are truly inspired. The French Mediterranean makes for a visually pleasing backdrop, while Goodman's score is consistently upbeat and perfect for such mirthful shenanigans. They are dirty, they are rotten and they are definitely scoundrels, but once your belly has subsided form the laughter, you may find yourself wondering just how the makers got you to cheer on such shifty characters?! The answer? Inspired casting and smooth construction of plotting by the director. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, a real joy. 8/10