Benson: Do you have any idea what it feels like to take a woman for 20 bucks?
Jamieson: No I haven’t I’m afraid it’s a little out of my class
If you’re looking for chivalrous gentleman then this film is not for you! If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a brilliant comedy, with a fantastic cast, and a story with twists and turns then watch this film! Starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin as the main protagonists, along with Glenne Headley, this film will keep you shaking your head in disbelief, but most importantly laughing! If you like pure, good quality, comedy then this is perfect to watch.
To summarise the plot without giving too much away: Caine plays Lawrence Jamieson, a smooth British con man who scams wealthy people out of their money and lives a life in luxury from this. Martin plays Freddy Benson, a conman who operates on a smaller scale than Jamieson, but thanks to his “sick grandmother” manages to scam money from women. The film is about these 2 conmen meeting, competing against each other, with a short spell of working together. This comes to a head with the arrival of Janet Colgate (Headley), a “soap queen” as Jamieson and Benson compete to con $50,000 from her. There are times when you think the matter is won, but there are plenty of twists along the way that keep this film fresh and constantly funny! The final twists are delightful, the outcome of which I won’t reveal, as I personally did not expect it when I first saw it! I will say Janet is not who she first seems…
The partnership of Caine and Martin is fabulous all the way. One or both of them are in virtually every scene so being invested in what they’re doing is vital. For me the film was not about rooting for either of them to beat the other, it was simply watching a couple of artists at work outwitting each other in the greatest ways. There were times when I thought that was it, Jamieson/Benson was beaten, but they continued coming up with ingenious resolutions with hilarious results! Because of this the film never felt like it was repeating material, it moved along at a good pace and kept interest high. The introduction of Colgate was a key point in the film and from then on, Headley/Caine/Martin were shown constantly. They worked well together and made for a great film.
These older comedy films are a gem that can be appreciated by all. Unlike the often more crude modern comedies, these feel like more sophisticated ones that have greater appeal and longevity. There is slapstick, visual humour along with more intellectual humour, which combine to make a film that must be seen if you love to laugh! There are sick grandmothers, a prince of a foreign country, doctors and wheelchairs, sailors, a corrupt police inspector, and a challenging character called Ruprecht. Also keep an eye out for The Jackal…
I would definitely rank Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels as one of the greatest comedies so would recommend to all!