Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Does It Better than The Hustle – A Rewatch Review

Although Dirty Rotten Scoundrels came out 30 years ago, it’s still the movie to beat when compared with the 2019 female-led remake The Hustle. Starring Steve Martin, Michael Cain, and Glenne Headley (who died last year — RIP), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels provides a witty journey with a pair of cons who are as likely to team up as turn on each other. In fact, in Scoundrels, they do both. And it’s glorious.

I’m not saying Scoundrels isn’t super silly at times (ie – “Ruprecht” — see video and catch an immortal “Pee” reference) – but these guys make it work. Mention this movie to people and they invariably quote, “Excuse me, may I go to the bathroom first?”

Or here, just watch the entire Ruprecht sequence on video:

Cain is the cool, suave, and smooth straight-man; Martin frolics, bumbles, and gleefully goofs his way across the Riviera. A young Glenne Headly is the ideal ingenue. Plus — bonus —  Emperor Palpatine gets to say, “Welcome to Hell.” (You can’t mistake Ian McDiarmid here as the butler, pre-Star Wars.)

In Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, nothing is exactly what it seems, and it’s the wacky, unexpected payoff that makes this truly memorable. People my age remember this film, and young folk still take to it. It holds up nicely, with only a few earmarks to indicate an 80s timestamp. When I re-watched this last night, I was “relieved” (ha — no pun intended) to see it was as playful and clever as I recalled.

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True to the nature of the Big Con, Scoundrels looks expensive, with locations sets on the French Riviera, at high end hotels, with a luxe villa to drool over. The scenery, cars, and bespoke suits add the perfect touches — in all ways, the producers did Dirty Rotten Scoundrels right  This silly comedy earns an A- in my book, even now.

Lots of laughs and a fun-filled farce with A listers on their A game? Yes, please.

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