Rewind Reviews: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Today for our Rewind Review, I watched the 1988 comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels starring Steve Martin as Freddie, Michael Caine as Lawrence and Glenn’s Headly as Janet.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” was directed by Frank Oz, who went on to make the film adaptation of ”The Little Shop of Horrors.”

This movie is a remake of the 1964 film Bedtime Story starring Marlon Brando as Freddie, David Niven as Lawerence and Shirley Jones as Janet. The original was described by critics at the time as the most embarrassing film of the year. EEK!

FUN LITTLE TRIVIA… Frank Oz originally wanted to pitch the same script to Mick Jagger and David Bowie. My heart loves this thought but my mind can not quite grasp it to be honest.  

So how does the remake stand up? Well, let’s first give a breakdown of the plot for you.

Freddie (Steve Martin) is an American small time con man who is traveling through Europe conning women into buying him lunches, giving him a few hundred dollars here and there to help get his “grandma” an operation.

Lawrence (Michael Caine) is a big time con artist who scams rich women by pretending to be a Prince whose country is in need of financial assistance to fight whatever war is going on.

Traveling by train the two encounter each other when Lawrence observes Freddie pulling his crude routine on a woman in the dining car to get a free meal. Freddie then happens to walk into Lawerence’s first class cabin on the train. This is where Lawrence learns that the Freddie has plans to work his low class scams  in his own home town or base town of Beaumont-sur-Mer on the Riveria. Lawrence doesn’t want Freddie scaring off “big game” by “hunting rabbits” in his town. So he does whatever he can to get Freddie gone, even having him arrested by a crooked cop. However, like a bad penny, Freddie keeps turning up. Freddie blackmails Lawrence into teaching him how to become a better con man.

As Freddie learns, the pair do a couple of cons together,  but Freddie gets fed up when he doesn’t get any of the pay off from the cons. He decides he will do his own cons in the town. This leads to a showdown where they make a wager for rights to con in Beaumont-sur-Mer on the Riveria.

The wager who can con $50,000 from a rich visiting American, The Queen of Soap. Janet played by Glenne Headly. Through a lot of comical situations we follow the two con men on their quest. Janet, seemingly sweet and innocent is being played by both cons… or is she? So with their pride and $50000 at stake the two are in for a wild ride as they undermine each other and get taken for a ride by Janet.

So what I liked: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a hybrid of really strange over dramatic characters, off putting sexual moments and sexual chemistry and old fashion slapstick comedy.
My favorite scenes are where Freddie pretends to be Lawrence’s slow brother Lawrence’s dim witted brother, Ruprecht. During these cons so the two have the funniest moments. Throughout this movie, I found myself enjoying the slap stick, wild antics with Martin’s physical comedic chops. Yes, some of scenes have all the ’80s political incorrectness but with a humor that I still appreciate.


Michael Caine’s comedic delivery, although not so blatant, was on par with his character. I actually enjoyed his back and forth with Martin’s overly exaggerated character portrayal of Freddie.

Headly’s character Janet in her sly manipulation of the con men. At the end you find out that Janet was The Jackal (an American Con Artist who Lawrence and his team heard about and feared… and at one point thought Freddie was The Jackal.) 

The end where Janet returns to the men stating, “I made three million dollars last year but, your fifty-thousand was the most fun.”

What I didn’t like: The predictably jokes and stunts seem very contrived at times.

Some of the writing outside of the comedy just didn’t play as well as the comedic moments.

Is it worth a watch? In my opinion yes. As long as you can appreciate the 80s unapologetic style of at times crude comedy. If you prefer to have your entertainment purely politically correct then you may get offended by some of the humor.

So what do you all think? Let me know on our Facebook page. Until next time thanks for reading this GeekyGirlNess and stay safe everyone!

About A.J. Blanton

Hi my name is AJ and I am an artist and geeky girl out of Branson Missouri. Welcome to my Geeky-Girl-Ness.
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