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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Frank Oz
Cast:
Michael Caine, Steve Martin, Glenne Headly
Writing Credits:
Dale Launer, Stanley Shapiro, Paul Henning

Synopsis:
Two con men try to settle their rivalry by betting on who can swindle a young American heiress out of $50,000 first.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$3,840,498 on 1466 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$42,039,085.

MPAA:
Rated R.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 1/22/2019

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Frank Oz
• Vintage Featurette
• Interview with Writer Dale Launer
• Trailers


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

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-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer.


RELATED REVIEWS


Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: Collector's Edition [Blu-Ray] (1988)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 3, 2019)

Along with 1999ís Bowfinger, 1988ís Dirty Rotten Scoundrels stands as one of Ozís two best flicks. Is it a coincidence that Oz worked with Steve Martin in both of those movies?

Probably not, though I donít want to attribute all of Ozís success with those pictures as being due solely to casting. Perhaps Martin just brings out the best in the director.

In any case, Scoundrels feels something like a companion piece to Bowfinger, since Martin plays a scheming character in both of them. However, thatís pretty much where comparisons to the lovable loser Bowfinger and the cynical con man Freddy Benson end.

Bowfinger includes no character who seems analogous to the other main participant of Scoundrels, the more genteel and sophisticated swindler Lawrence Jamieson (Michael Caine). Scoundrels remakes 1964ís Bedtime Story, which starred David Niven in the Caine role and Marlon Brando (!) in the Martin part.

At the start of the film, we see Lawrence in action near his swank French villa in Beaumont Sur Mer. Aided by local police inspector Andre (Anton Rodgers) and his butler Arthur (Ian McDiarmid, in between stints as the Emperor), Lawrence takes wealthy women for vast sums of money and seems to enjoy a rich and content lifestyle.

However, storm clouds gather on the horizon when he learns of a notorious con artist known only as ďThe JackalĒ and Lawrence thinks heís met this match when he encounters Freddy on a train ride. Granted, Freddy seems like a small-time swindler, so Lawrence probably should have suspected something, but he goes on guard anyway, especially when Freddy declares his intentions to visit Beaumont Sur Mer.

Despite Lawrenceís best efforts, the junior con man comes to the villa anyway. The townís not big enough for the both of them, so the two need to find some way to establish territorial rights.

They choose a bet and set their sights on the ďUS Soap QueenĒ, Janet Colgate (Glenne Headly). The first man to get $50,000 out of Janet wins. From there a series of comic escapades ensue as both Lawrence and do their unscrupulous best to separate the sweet and innocent Janet from a substantial piece of change.

Itíd be unfair of me to reveal more than that, for much of the fun found in Scoundrels results from its many twists and surprises. However, the pleasure doesnít hinge on those factors, as Iíve seen the movie many times and it remains entertaining despite the lack of freshness to its plot. Still, anyone who hasnít seen it deserves to go into it clean.

Comedies live and die by their performers. Of course, script, direction and all the other filmmaking elements are important as well, but a good actor can turn a bland film into something wonderful, while itís difficult to overcome a drab presence in a comedy.

Scoundrels went with an interesting approach for its three leads. Only Martin was an established comedic actor, and this era represented his most successful work. During the second half of the Eighties, he knocked out hits like Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Roxanne and Parenthood as he slowly became more famous as an actor than as a stand-up comic.

In Caine, obviously we got a highly successful and well-respected actor. In fact, heíd just won his first Oscar for Hannah and Her Sisters.

However, Caine wasnít - and still isnít - well known as a comedic presence, so he was more of a wild card in that regard. Not as much as Headly, though, who was a virtual unknown with film audiences at the time. Iíd certainly never heard of her, and though she never turned into a star, she at least developed a name for herself after Scoundrels.

All three show fine timing and presence, and they work quite well together. Chemistry becomes very important because those three spend much of the film interacting with each other.

In fact, once Freddy enters the scene, we rarely see any of them without at least of the others. They play off each other and develop much of the story through their revelations and reactions.

This creates a wonderful comic tension that the three performers exploit nicely. Really, the pleasure in Scoundrels comes less from what will happen next and more from seeing how the actors react to the challenges. Freddy and Lawrence continually scheme to get the best of each other, and this forms a fun and witty tale.

In the end, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels remains a delight 31 years after it first hit movie screens. The movie shows few signs of age as it thrives due to the fine performances of its leads. Itís a solid comedy that seems winning and engaging from beginning to end.


The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image held up well over the last 31 years.

Sharpness appeared solid. Some minor soft shots materialized, but these remained rare, so the majority of the flick offered concise, accurate visuals.

Jagged edges and moirť effects caused no concerns, and edge haloes stayed away from the picture. With a nice sense of grain structure, I didnít suspect issues with digital noise reduction, and print flaws failed to mar the presentation.

Colors looked pretty rich and vibrant, as the French seaside setting offered many opportunities for vivid hues. These came across in a satisfying manner.

Blacks looked dark and dense, while shadows seemed smooth and well-defined. Many 1980s movies seem mushy and problematic, but this one came across with appealing visuals.

Not surprisingly, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix remained mainly oriented toward the forward channels. In the front, I heard nice spread to both music and effects. The former showed good stereo separation and delineation, while the latter provided solid localization and panning.

The elements blended together well to create a reasonably vivid and lively setting. For example, the atmosphere came to life neatly during the train and casino sequences.

Surround usage seemed limited, as the rears offered little more than general reinforcement of the effects and music. However, this wasnít a complaint, as the surrounds appeared to work appropriately for this kind of flick, especially given its age.

Audio quality was good as well. Speech came across as acceptably natural and distinct, and I detected not problems related to intelligibility or edginess.

Effects were a fairly minor aspect of the mix, but they consistently appeared clear and accurate, and I heard no significant signs of distortion. Music showed reasonable clarity and brightness as well. I found Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to provide a perfectly fine soundtrack for a film of this vintage and genre.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? The lossless audio boasted superior range, and visuals seemed tighter, cleaner and more vivid. The Blu-ray became an obvious upgrade over the old DVD.

The DVDís extras repeat here, and we open with an audio commentary from director Frank Oz. He offers a running, screen-specific affair that looks at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, editing, production design, and general filmmaking thoughts.

Some of Ozís commentaries have been lackluster, but he delivers a strong chat here. Oz seems invested and excited to discuss the movie, so he brings us a likable, informative view of the film.

From 1988, a six-minute, 47-second Vintage Featurette offers info from Oz, writer/executive producer Dale Launer, director of photography Michael Bollhaus, producer Bernard Williams, costume designer Marit Allen and actors Glenne Headly, Michael Caine and Steve Martin.

Due to its length, the featurette canít provide great depth, but it becomes a decent little overview of the production. At least we hear from a number of different sides of the film and not just the usual mix of director and actor statements.

Actually, the programís best parts come from the some of the interchange between Martin and Caine, as they offer a few funny moments. Ultimately, this isnít a great piece, but it seems above average for its genre.

New to the CE Blu-ray, an Interview with Writer Dale Launer lasts 23 minutes, 25 seconds. In this chat, he discusses the projectís genesis and development, casting, rewrites and the movieís reception. Launer contributes a slew of good details and makes this an informative chat.

In addition, we find both the filmís theatrical trailer and its teaser trailer. The latter provides material shot specifically for the promo, so it doesnít use movie clips.

Oz provides a commentary for the teaser. He tells us a little about it and gives us a bit of useful information.

A gently wicked but thoroughly engaging comedy about some unscrupulous people, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels provides a very fun experience. Mainly due to some wonderful performances, the film seems consistently delightful and smart, as it casts a clever and often hilarious web. The Blu-ray offers very good picture and audio along with a smattering of engaging supplements. After more than 30 years, Scoundrels remains a winning comedy.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main