Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Blu-ray Review: Pros and Cons on the French Riviera

Who will come out the victor as con men try to con each other in Frank Oz's light and airy Riviera comedy?
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Steve Martin and Michael Caine are a dynamic duo vying for the fortune, and affections, of American heiress Glenne Headly, in 1988's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Shout Select has released the film for the first time ever on Blu-ray and it is great to look at. The film is as bright and sharp as the con men at its core. The new release has been mastered from a new 2K scan of the film and looks very bright, detailed, and colorful on a large-scale high-definition television screen. Of course the fact that it was shot by renowned cinematographer Michael Ballhaus helps, too.

Director Frank Oz (In and Out, What About Bob, Housesitter) keeps the mood as light and airy as its French Riviera setting. A remake of the 1964 Marlon Brando/David Niven film Bedtime StoryDirty Rotten Scoundrels features Michael Caine as sophisticated British con man Lawrence Jamieson, who has a very nice set-up romancing and separating rich female tourists from their jewels and inheritances. He has operated successfully out of his glamorous seaside villa for ages - until a crass and younger swindler, Freddy Benson (Steve Martin) - decides to move in on his territory. After many unsuccessful attempts to rid himself of Freddy, the pair finally agree to settle their turf war with a bet - in the form of the recently arrived and seemingly naive and beautiful young American heiress Janet Colgate (Glenne Headly). But as the competition intensifies the bet becomes not just about Janet's $50,000, but Janet herself. Who will come out the victor? 

dirty3.gifSteve Martin, Glenne Headly, and Michael Caine put everything on rouge

Caine has a blast playing the suave Jamieson, and channels David Niven, Errol Flynn, and just about every Classic Hollywood star who has ever sported a pencil-thin moustache and slicked-back hair.

Lawrence Jamieson (Micahel Caine): Freddy, as a younger man, I was a sculptor, a painter, and a musician. There was just one problem: I wasn't very good. As a matter of fact, I was dreadful. I finally came to the frustrating conclusion that I had taste and style, but not talent. I knew my limitations. We all have our limitations, Freddy. Fortunately, I discovered that taste and style were commodities that people desired. Freddy, what I am saying is: know your limitations. You are a moron.

In fact, there is something Old Hollywood and classic about the whole proceedings. During a series of set-pieces in which Jamieson tries to teach Freddy how to run a con stylishly, Martin does his best trying to follow Caine's lead, as he is taught how to be charming and sophisticated. But choosing the right wine or appreciating fine art doesn't seem to suit the boorish Freddy. Big laughs come as Martin is able to cut loose and really do some physical comedy in a practice can as another character, "Ruprecht the Monkey Boy."

As great as the two main leads are, Glenne Headly practically steals the film from the pair once she appears on the scene. She is more than able to hold her own with the dueling Caine and Martin. Also along for the ride are Barbara Harris, Dana Ivey, and Frances Conroy as some of Lawrence Jamieson's previous victims, and Anton Rodgers and Ian McDiarmid as his local accomplices.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was filmed on location in the South of France, which adds to the overall glitz and charm. Riviera locations include Nice, Cannes, Antibes, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, and Villefranche-sur-Mer.

The collector’s edition Blu-ray also includes some bonus features for fans of the comedy classic:

  • A behind-the-scenes "vintage" featurette - features the actors and crew on location
  • An interview with screenwriter Dale Launer, who talks about the creation of the project and previous casting choices before Frank Oz selected Caine and Martin.
  • Audio commentary from director Frank Oz
  • Three Trailers (trailer, teaser trailer, trailer with commentary by director Frank Oz)

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels runs approximately 110 minutes and is in color, in 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1). Scene selection is available. It is in English (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), with English subtitles.

Sit back, pop the bubbly, and enjoy watching some great actors at the top of their form in Frank Oz's delightful farce.

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