Film: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Good guys finish last. Meet the winners.

A 1988 Frank Oz film about con artists. A remake of an earlier movie, Bedtime Story, with a different ending.

Lawrence Jamieson (Michael Caine) is a sophisticated, cultured con artist who preys on rich women visiting the French Riviera, extracting large sums from them voluntarily by masquerading as an exiled prince who needs help to regain his throne. One day, he meets a less ambitious con artist, Freddy Benson (Steve Martin), who is conning women out of money for lunch and train tickets by masquerading as an impoverished charity worker. Worried that Freddy may affect his work after he sees a newspaper article describing the con-work of 'The Jackal,' and after attempting to train him in culture and conning, Lawrence makes a bet with him: The first of them to con a selected mark out of $50,000 can stay in the area, while the other must leave. The two decide the mark is to be the apparently wealthy socialite Janet Colgate. Complications and hilarities ensue.

Became a Broadway musical in 2005. According to IMDb, a remake is in development.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The Musical is extremely faithful to the movie, and one of the only changes that it makes are to give Andre and Ms. Eubanks more character development.
  • Batman Gambit: Lawrence and Freddy use these extensively in their duel of bastardry, to see who can get $50,000 out of Janet first.
  • The Barnum: Lawrence is this, or at least thinks he is. His introductory song in The Musical is titled "Givin' 'Em What They Want."
  • Between My Legs: When Janet is talking Freddy out of his "suicide attempt" as he's crawling on the beach.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Subverted. After demonstrating the skills that Lawrence taught him in the Training Montage, Freddy never uses them again. Justified in that after that point, they are in competition with each other over whose technique works better.
  • Con Men (Lawrence Jamieson, Freddy Benson , and "Janet Colgate" herself!)
  • Dirty Cop: Andre is pretty corrupt; he invades the privacy of visiting tourists, keeps a prostitute on retainer (Claudette, who keeps Freddy on the train), arrests foreigners without cause, and gets a healthy cut from Lawrence's work.
  • Double Meaning: When Janet gives the briefcase of money back to Lawrence, she tells him "I can't take this. It doesn't belong to me. And I'll always have something from you that means much more." Little does he know that she's speaking the literal truth: the briefcase actually contains Freddie's clothes (which don't belong to her), and she has his money.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Ostensibly, at least. Lawrence Jamieson claims to only target wealthy and corrupt women, and we never see him make his words hollow.
  • Evil vs. Evil
  • Freudian Trio: Freddie is the id, Janet is the ego, and Lawrence is the superego.
  • Gentleman Thief: Lawrence may rob these rich women blind, but he spends it on rare art, ancient wine, and French legacy gardens.
  • Graceful Loser: Lawrence intends to be this when it looks like Freddy has won their wager. He later is this when it turns out that Janet has played them both. Freddy, not so much.
  • Noble Male, Roguish Male: Lawrence and Freddy.
  • Noodle Incident: Just how did Freddy break the butler's VCR?
  • Obfuscating Disability: Played for laughs.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Janet Colgate, full stop.
  • Pair the Spares: Andre and Ms. Eubanks in The Musical.
  • Pretty in Mink: Janet has a mink that she claims Freddy stole from her, along with most of her possessions, at the end. That was just part of her story to get Lawrence to give her some money.
  • Punctuated Pounding: Lawrence whipping Freddie while acting like it's part of his therapy: "Or my name isn't Doctor! Emil! Shaffhausen! The Third!"
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Freddie and Lawrence.
  • Royally Screwed Up: When some heiresses get too close to Lawrence's princely con, he gets Freddie to play a mentally disturbed brother, Ruprecht, to scare them off.
  • Spanish Prisoner: Lawrence's main scam is a variation on this.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Freddy's face as Lawrence prepares to run at him and smack his legs from across the room.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: Freddy pretends that Janet has cured his fake disability with The Power of Love.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Lawrence's wine collection which he will never drink because "they're too valuable" and never sell because "they mean too much" to him.
  • Welcome to Hell
  • Worthy Opponent: At the end, Lawrence acknowledges Janet as this.