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.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The very end of the film
  • 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 Gunman: A brief mention is made on the train radio of a skilled young con-artist called "The Jackal". Lawrence initially suspects Freddy is the guy, but he isn't. As it turns out, Janet is The Jackal, and out-smarts both men while getting away scot-free.
  • 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 Man: 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 do anything to the contrary.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Both Lawrence and Freddy think the other is inept as a con-man and attempt to prove they're the better hustler. Once Janet arrives on the scene, she proceeds to show them both how it's done.
  • Evil vs. Evil: A smaller-scale example than most. It starts as a turf-war of sorts between Lawrence and Freddy when Freddy starts plying his trade on Lawrence's traditional stomping grounds, then escalates into a full-blown contest of skill where they both try to see who can con $50,000 out of a wealthy young woman, Janet Colgate, when she shows up. She then turns it into a full-blown melee--trois by misdirecting both of them and getting away with the same sum of money out of which they were trying to con her.
  • Freudian Trio: Freddie is the id, Janet is the ego and Lawrence is the superego.
  • Funny Background Event: In the first teaser trailer, which contains specially filmed footage not found in the movie. Freddy and Lawrence are slowly strolling down a riverside boulevard. The viewer is likely to notice Freddy pushing the old lady into the water. The viewer is less likely to notice Lawrence pushing a tube of cotton candy into a kid's face.
  • 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.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: While Freddy and Lawrence are trying to con Janet, she plays along, taking them both for suckers at the climax.
  • Karma Houdini: Neither Lawrence nor Freddy face punishment for their con tricks. Nor, it turns out, does Janet.
  • Massive Multiplayer Scam: How Freddy and Lawrence both try to get the money from Janet.
  • 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.
  • Out-Gambitted: Both Lawrence and Freddy.
  • Pair the Spares: Andre and Ms. Eubanks in The Musical.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Lawrence considers getting rid of Freddy at the start of the film because "A petty poacher shooting at rabbits might scare the big game away." In other words, he doesn't consider Freddy competition, he's just protecting his turf.
  • 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.
  • Villainous Friendship: Lawrence and Freddy alternate between having this and being bitter rivals. When Janet comes back at the end of the film, complete with a bunch of new rich morons for the three of them to con together, they wind up having a three-way form of this.
  • Walking Spoiler: Janet Colgate, in case you didn't guess it, has a humdinger of a secret under wraps, which is the cause of all these spoiler marks. Namely, she is the mystery con-artist known as "The Jackal", and was only playing along with the schemes both Freddy and Lawrence were pulling on her, and walks away with thousands of dollars of their money while sacrificing none of hers.
  • Welcome to Hell: Even funnier when the line is delivered by Emperor Palpatine...
  • Wham Line: "Goodbye boys. I'll miss you. Love, Janet, the Jackal."
  • Worthy Opponent: At the end, Lawrence acknowledges Janet as this.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Freddy's modus operandi.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Both con men are constantly revising their plans, both from the snags that they keep running into and the other's attempt to sabotage their plans.