Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A very classy, sophisticated gentleman makes a habit of swindling rich ladies of their money whenever they pass through the quaint little French town in which he lives. One day, an uncouth, loud American con artist comes upon his turf and decides to stay and play the same game. Unfortunately, the town isn't big enough for the both of them, so they make a bet to decide who gets to stay. The wager? They choose a woman at random and whoever gets her to give him $50,000 first, wins and stays.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
A classic comedy! This is the base from which the more recently womanized filmed version, entitled HEARTBREAKERS, took its lead, and it is a doozy. The two lead performances in this film are amazing. Michael Caine, perfect as the rich, stuffy and detailed local who can't stand the sight of his new competition, and Steve Martin, playing several characters, all of which are hilarious in their own right. This flick is full of laughs, full of twists, turns and just an overall hoot! My favorite sequence in the film involved a character named Ruprecht, who Martin plays, and the physical comedy displayed in his sequences alone were laugh out loud funny (check out Martin's voice as well-- he's quite gifted). But Caine is just as strong against the goofy Martin, with his slight mannerisms giving you just enough insight into his restraint anger, and an offering of several interesting accents of his own (the final Australian one was purposely stereotypical and it was quite a gas-- "Shall we put some shrimp on the barbie?"
Another thing that I loved about this movie was its pace and its many different gears. The first half hour seemed to concentrate on the two men just getting to know each other, which was fun. After that, the film shows them "working" together on a few cons, and more hilarity and intelligent sequences follow. And the final part of the film is the actual competition between the two men which gets downright nasty, with Martin pretending to be an invalid, and quicker than you can take that in, Caine pretending to be a world-renowned doctor who can cure him, and even more fun ensues. Add all that to a deliciously upbeat score by Miles Goodman, beautiful scenery from the South of France and plenty of surprises, and the film is simply on a class of its own. They might be dirty, they might be rotten, but somebody forget to mention the "very funny" part of these two scoundrels.
The main crux of the extras come by the way of a full-length commentary track by director Frank Oz. I say "full-length" because he really does talk throughout the film, with no dead time whatsoever. He's also very humble and extremely gracious in giving credit to the team that helped him put the film together, although he does keep saying that he "forgot" the name of this place and that place, but explained that it had been 13 years since he'd last seen the movie. That would also explain the fact that he too would laugh at the film from time to time, and offered many pre-, post and actual production insights, like many of the adlibs which Martin and Caine were granted, and the fact that they shot the movie all the while, without having an ending to it (they made it up as they went). A great listen for fans of the movie.
The DVD also contains a 7-minute "Behind the Scenes" featurette which had some interviews from the production with Caine and Martin, about their characters, as well as director Oz. From the commentary track and these interviews, it's more than obvious that these people had a blast making this movie in the South of France (duh!!). The featurette isn't spectacular but it's also not a typical "fluff-piece" like those we find on some of the newer flicks. The disc also includes the film's original trailer and teaser trailer (with or without commentary from director), which was one of the more memorable teasers that I could remember from the 80s: Caine and Martin walking down a French boardwalk and Steve pushing a little old lady into the water, very non-chalantly. And if you pay even closer attention, you'll notice that Caine also stuffs cotton candy into a kid's face on the other side. Funny shtuff!
Overall, this flick should be seen by anyone who is a fan of either actor, and even more importantly, a fan of original, funny comedies in general. This film was a remake of the 1964 Marlon Brando/David Niven film entitled BEDTIME STORY, and is likely to brighten up any day. It's fun, it's gorgeous to look at, it's filled with interesting characters and it provides for many laughs. The extras are also interesting enough, especially the commentary track that is a "must listen" for any fan. See it, rent it, buy it, love it....!