Top 50 Comedy Movies: 37
Number 37: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Two very different men have a very similar hobby. That hobby, or I should say, career, is scamming, fleecing, hustling, and ultimately, cheating people out of money. The stage that they are set to share is in Beaumont-sur-Mer (a fictional town), on the French Rivera.
One of the gentlemen is a very well turned out specimen. Very suave and sophisticated. Quiescently English in every way. Very cunning too. He goes by the name of Lawrence Jamieson (Michael Caine) but he can and will adapt himself and his name, character, and accent if there is a decent amount of money in it.
The second fellow in this film is the mirror opposite of Jamieson. He is not less of a tricky customer, however he prefers to play short cons, often for smaller amounts of money. Freddy Benson (Steve Martin) is his name and searching for easy money/marks is his game.
Spotting Benson and his antics, Jamieson worries that he will have his safe tranquil atmosphere ruined and his career will be over..
Jamieson, with his local contacts, has Benson arrested and put on a plane.
A simple solution to a monumental problem. But, things do not run according to plan...
Benson, while on his travels (thanks to Jamieson), meets an old victim of Jamieson's. It is then that Benson plots, plans, and returns to Beaumont-sur-Mer with his new information.
What does Benson do with this information?
Upon returning to Beaumont-sur-Mer, Benson tracks Jamieson down and propositions him: Teach me the ways of the long con or I will let your old mark know where you are and force you out of town.
Jamieson reluctantly agrees. However, he finds the task of teaching Benson about being "classy", tough. Things generally end up with Benson always plays the "fool" in their joint scams.
Tired and annoyed with making little money and playing the fool. Benson breaks away from Jamieson. The problem of them both being in the same location still exists however.
The two con artists in the end agree that whoever manages to con $50,000 out of a selected mark first, gets to stay, and the other has to leave.
Things do not turn out to be as easy as they both thought and they both have to dig deep within themselves in order to not only sabotage each others scams but to receive the money from their mark..