Movie Review: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1988 comedy film starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine.

Synopsis: A successful con man and a rival small-time American hustler become rivals in the French Riviera and enter a competition with each other to determine which of them will be forced to leave. The object of their competition is to be the first to swindle a visiting American heiress out of $50,000.


I couldn't sleep this morning and was up much earlier than I expected to be (or wanted to be). And, since everyone else was still in bed, I took advantage of the quiet to watch a movie. Fortunately for me, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was on.

I've seen this movie several times now and it is easily one of my favorite Steve Martin films. This is because it is a movie that gives him an opportunity to show his full comedy range while, at the same time, has a plot that is entertaining to watch.

One thing, in particular, I like about this movie is it isn't anywhere near as predictable as you would think it would be. Since Freddy Benson (Martin) and Lawrence Jamieson (Caine) both have likable things about them while, at the same time, are technically bad guys, it's hard to tell exactly how this movie is going to end. There are just too many possibilities, ranging from both of them getting caught to one of them falling in love with the target. And, the fact some of Lawrence's former marks keep popping up only adds to that unpredictability.

The pairing of Caine and Martin is also an excellent one. Caine manages to pull off the charm and arrogance his character needs to be memorable while Martin, as I mentioned, offers a variety of smart and physical comedy. They play off of each other well and the best scenes in this film are the ones that have the two of them helping/trying to sabotage each other.

I also thought casting Headly as their target, Janet Colgate, was a good decision. She was a strong enough actress to keep her character from fading into the background when Caine and Martin were stealing the scene but, at the same time, knew when to step back and let them do their thing. In other words, she was a nice complement to them.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

One's got a sophisticated, suave and debonair con act. The other's got...well, an act. Together, Steve Martin and Michael Caine are Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and they're absolute...

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Final Opinion

I'm a huge Steve Martin fan and this movie is easily one of his best. The movie has a talented cast of actors that take advantage of a well-written script and is an enjoyable film to watch no matter how many times you've seen it.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 06/20/2015, StevenHelmer
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