Blu-ray Review: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels [Collector's Edition] | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels [Collector’s Edition]

Studio: Shout! Factory

Feb 06, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

In a sleepy resort town on the French Riviera, the debonair playboy Lawrence Jamieson (Michael Caine) makes a comfortable living as a master swindler, seducing wealthy tourists out of their money by posing as an exiled prince. With the local police chief in his pocket, Lawrence appears unbeatable at his game, his ill-gotten gains having funded a palatial villa with a seaside view.  That is, until American con man Freddy Benson (Steve Martin) stumbles into town with similar plans to pinch pennies from passing-through widows and heiresses. The town isn’t big enough for two hustlers, of course, and so a wager is made: the first to fool $50,000 from a visiting bachelorette (Glenne Headly) will win the resort as their exclusive territory.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a remake of the 1964 comedy Bedtime Story, originally conceived as a vehicle for Cary Grant and Rock Hudson but instead made with David Niven and Marlon Brando. The movie’s old-fashioned inspiration is worn on its sleeve; Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has the feel of a screwball comedy of errors, certainly like something Grant would have been perfect in or the nutty Pink Panther franchise which Niven was known for. Both Martin and Caine’s characters are despicable, and the two actors clearly relish in playing such affable scum. The film’s highlights come when the con men regularly become caught in the lies they tell women, unable to do anything but play along with the other’s improvised stories or risk blowing their cover. There’s a lot of over-the-top silliness, but the film’s rapid pace always keeps it from wearing thin.

Shout! Factory’s Collector’s Edition comes with a new 2K scan of the film, something that was sorely needed throughout the frequent re-issuing the movie’s seen over the years. (Scoundrels was shot by regular Scorsese collaborator Michael Ballhaus, and looks better than what you’d expect from most broad studio comedies.) Bonus features include trailers, a vintage featurette, and a director’s commentary by Frank Oz, all ported from a previous release. The main new bonus feature is a great interview with writer/producer Dale Launer, who is unusually candid about the casting process and drops some interesting insight and trivia, including a nugget about how the earliest seedling version of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was imagined as a vehicle for Mick Jagger and David Bowie meant to capitalize on their perceived chemistry in that ridiculous “Dancing in the Streets” music video.

Between this and The Jerk, Shout! are doing a good deed in representing peak Steve Martin in worthy home video releases.



Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.