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Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

This town ain’t big enough for the both of them

Directed by:

Frank Oz

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 110 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

Michael Caine recently re-visited comedy crime caper territory in Irish-based con flick “The Actors” – but for a far more polished, not to mention funny, display as a trickster from the great British thesp look no further than “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”.

Caine is in his comedic element as sauve Riviera scam artist Lawrence Jamieson, a role originally played by David Niven in the 1964 original version titled “Bedtime Story”. Back then, Marlon Brando played the small-time American crook trying to make the big bucks by moving in on Jamieson's patch. This time, it's wacky funster Steve Martin who does the honours.

Martin is Freddy Benson, who enters into a less-than-gentlemanly wager with Benson to see who can be first to con $50,000 out of dizzy US soap-powder queen Janet Colgate (Glenne Heady). As scam and counter-scam unfold, Caine and Martin are given countless opportunities to play up to the cameras and generally have a whale of a time.

Best of all is when, in a sub-plot seeing the pair work together to swindle a wealthy Eurocrat, Freddy pretends to be Lawrence's clinically-barking brother Ruprecht. In one of the most side-splittingly hilarious scenes of Martin's career, Ruprecht bangs pots with a spoon, wears an eyepatch (for his own protection) and soils himself at the dinner table. Similarly memorable is when Martin sits in a wheelchair claiming to have no feeling in his legs – only for Caine to pose as a leading doctor who sets about testing his patient's numbness to the limit.

The plot isn't the best in the world and the twists never far from predictable, but what raises “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” way above the average are the rip-roaring performances of Caine and Martin. Heady is also worth a mention for her suitably light-headed showing as the apparent pushover who turns out to have a few tricks up her own sleeve as well.

It's Got: Fabulous comedy chemistry between the chalk-and-cheese Caine and Martin.

It Needs: More twists and turns to keep us guessing as well as entertained.

DVD Extras Theatrical trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

Bedtime Story, Happy New Year, The Actors

Summary

An out-and-out comedy with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and a cracking lead duo.

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