Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

Directed by Frank Oz
Written by Paul Henning, Dale Launer & Stanley Shapiro
Starring Steve Martin, Michael Caine, Glenne Headly, Anton Rodgers, Ian McDiarmid


Anamorphic: No.

My Advice: Rent It.

Lawrence Jamieson (Caine) is a professional con man with impeccable taste and style. Freddy Benson (Martin) is a small-time con man who's nickeling and diming his way across Europe with no eye for the big scam. When they both meet head-on in the Riviera, somebody's got to give. A wager is presented, the gamble is this: whoever manages to scam the victim of choice (in this case, a young lady by the name of Janet Colgate (Headly)) wins. To the winner goes the spoils, to the loser--leave town. I remember seeing this upon its theatrical release and finding it a fairly amusing flick. It holds up against the test of time as both Martin and Caine deliver really choice performances as multiple characters.

This disc thankfully does have some extras for us. First, there's the obligatory featurette, containing bits from Oz, Caine and Martin, all talking about directing, the locations, the crew. It's not the worst featurette I've ever seen but it did little to get my blood pumping. Then we have the audio commentary by Oz. Apart from some technical information he gives out--which includes some explanation of the work of DP Michael Ballhaus as well as discussion of the alternate ways that certain scenes were shot--it's a really dry presentation. It bores mostly because Oz keeps remarking on how it's been so long since he worked on the film and doesn't recall certain details. If he had mentioned the fact it had been thirteen years one more time I swear I would have hurt someone. Also, he repeats certain rudimentary facts about filmmaking (like how you use the same casino for two different casino scenes) that will get on the nerves of people who know about movies.

There's the theatrical trailer as well, but my personal favorite item on this disc is the teaser trailer, which has an optional Oz commentary track to go along with it. I've always thought that the teaser for the film was hilarious, but Oz pointed out a detail I had missed even after all these years--and now the damn thing's twice as funny.

The disc is a good one. Additional commentary by Caine and Martin to balance out the awkwardness of Oz' would have been nice, but this treament is frankly better than I would have thought this film would receive. Martin and Caine completists should purchase it, or fans of the director. Otherwise, everyone else should check it out on a more temporary basis.

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