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One's got a sophisticated, suave and debonair con act. The other's got...well, an act. Together, Steve Martin and Michael Caine are Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and they're absolutely ruining the Riviera in this "hilarious battle of wits and double-crosses" Boxoffice that "couldn't be more delightful" The Wall Street Journal! Martin is Freddy Benson, a smalltime conman sleazing his way through Europe on whatever handouts he can scam. Caine is Lawrence Jamieson, an impeccably dressed and high-minded artiste who thinks Freddy is giving himand all con mena bad name. At first, Lawrence agrees to help Freddy spruce up his talents and his wardrobe. But when it becomes apparent that the Riviera isn't big enough for the both of them, they make awinner-take-all wager over the fortunes of a naive American soap heiress Glenne Headly: the firstone to "clean her out" can make the other clear outand keep the Riviera and its unsuspecting tourists to himself!
Freddy Benson Steve Martin is a crass, loud American. Laurence Jameson Michael Caine is a suave, urbane European. Their common ground is that they both are confidence men, and they meet in a train compartment as Benson is scamming his way across Europe, taking advantage of women's generosity. The two are forced into a rivalry, which culminates in a wager to see who can be the first to bilk $50,000 out of American heiress Janet Colgate Glenne Headly. Their game of one-upmanship is, of course, brought to ridiculous heights as things progress. Written by Paul Henning the mind behind such TV shows as Green Acres and The Beverly Hillbillies, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is an uneven but funny mix of Martin's physical comedy and Caine's oily charms. Martin's first role as cohort is to assume the persona of Ruprecht, the "special" younger brother intended to scare off potential brides. As Ruprecht, he comes off as a cross between The Andy Griffith Show's Ernest T. Bass and Jerry Lewis; hilarious as it is, it doesn't quite fit with the rest of the film. Once the wager is on, though, Martin slips into his overly earnest mode as an American military man suffering from hysterical paralysis, with Caine as a psychologist who takes on his case. All in all, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels a loose remake of the 1964 film Bedtime Story with David Niven and Marlon Brando is a droll, intelligent comedy, short on knee slappers but long on comic situations and characterizations. --Jerry Renshaw