On its original release in 1988, the pairing of Steve Martin and Michael Caine in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
was seen as something of a dream ticket. Viewing the film many years later, that assessment still proves completely accurate: the casting is perfect. American Freddy Benson and Briton Lawrence Jamieson are con men who work the French Riviera--at first as colleagues, later as rivals--praying on rich, gullible women before finally meeting their match. Having spent the decade veering between popular rubbish and low-key quality, for once Caine was able to find a populist vehicle that did justice to his talents. Steve Martin is, well, very Steve Martin but there are few better suited to the visual comedy of his character. The film has an old-fashioned feel (no sex, violence or bad language) and owes much to the earlier period of film humour--it really doesn't take that much imagination to see this as an Ealing comedy. All round, it's a stylish, charming, witty film.
On the DVD: Extras are few, limited to scene selection, subtitles and the very funny trailer. Picture quality is superb, allowing the film's exotic setting to sparkle and there are many scenes of breathtaking beauty. Given that the film is full of fantastic comedy set pieces, the ability to select scenes is a real plus, allowing to the viewer to locate that classic Martin pratfall at the push of a button. --Phil Udell
When small-time con-artist Freddy Benson (Steve Martin) invades the lucrative Riviera turf of old pro Lawrence Jamieson (Michael Caine), the latter agrees to take him on and tutor him in the methods of fleecing wealthy widows. However, it is not long before Freddy is chafing at the second banana role imposed on him by Lawrence, and when a beautiful American heiress (Glenne Headly) arrives in town, the duelling scamsters agree to a contest; whoever gets their hands on her money first forces the loser to leave town for good...