Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a 1988 American comedy film directed by Frank Oz. The screenplay by Dale Launer, Stanley Shapiro, and Paul Henning focuses on two con artists who ply their trade on the French Riviera. Although it is not officially credited as a remake of Bedtime Story, it closely follows the plot of the 1964 film starring David Niven and Marlon Brando.

The cast featured:

Steve Martin as Freddy Benson
Michael Caine as Lawrence Jamieson
Glenne Headly as Janet Colgate
Anton Rodgers as Inspector Andre
Barbara Harris as "Lady" Fanny Eubanks of Omaha
Ian McDiarmid as Arthur, Lawrence's butler
Dana Ivey as Mrs. Reed
Meagen Fay as Lady from Oklahoma
Frances Conroy as Lady from Palm Beach
Louis Zorich as Nikos, the Greek millionaire

The film ranks as number 85 on Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies.

Background

The movie was rumored to have originally been written as a vehicle for Mick Jagger and David Bowie, who, according to Bowie were "a bit tweezed that we lost out on a script that could have been reasonably good." Jagger had written the title song to Ruthless People based on his enthusiasm for the screenplay written by Dale Launer. When Jagger and Bowie asked Launer to write a screenplay for them, Launer suggested they do a remake of the movie Bedtime Story, which originally starred David Niven and Marlon Brando. Launer ended up securing the remake rights from Stanley Shapiro, one of the original writers.

Launer rewrote the screenplay and took it to Orion Pictures. The first director on the project was Herbert Ross (Turning Point). Eventually Ross was replaced by Frank Oz who preferred the Launer version written previously to Mr. Ross' involvement.

Filming locations included Antibes, Cannes, Beaulieu-sur-Mer (depicted in the film as "Beaumont-sur-Mer"), Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Nice, and Villefranche-sur-Mer. The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild was visited by the leading characters in a scene. The estate belonging to Lawrence is a private villa located at the tip of the Cap d'Antibes, and the hotel hosting a number of dining and casino scenes is the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat.

In a DVD extra providing a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, Frank Oz discusses a teaser trailer he directed for the studio, which wanted to begin promoting the film before there was enough actual footage to assemble a trailer. An entire day was spent filming a scene in which Freddy and Lawrence stroll along the promenade, politely moving out of the way of other people, until Freddy casually pushes an elderly woman into the water and Lawrence nonchalantly shoves a little boy's face into his cotton candy. Oz says audiences were surprised to discover the scene was not part of the released film.

There was no trailer for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Director Oz was shown three trailers made and submitted to Orion by "trailer houses" (companies employed by the studios who will take a movie and create a trailer). Oz didn't like any of them and as a result, no trailer was ever released.

The film opened on 1,466 screens in the United States and earned $3,840,498 on its opening weekend. In total it grossed $42,039,085 in the US.

Michael Caine was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy but lost to Tom Hanks in Big. Glenne Headly was named Most Promising New Actress by the Chicago Film Critics Association.

The film served as the basis of a successful stage musical of the same name that opened on Broadway in early 2005. It starred John Lithgow as Lawrence and Norbert Leo Butz as Freddy and Broadway star Sherie Rene Scott as the soap queen, in the show named Christine Colgate, not Janet.

The film was remade in Hindi with the name Andaz apna apna, starring Aamir khan and Salman Khan.

Reviews

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said, "The plot ... is not as complex as a movie like The Sting, and we can see some of the surprises as soon as they appear on the horizon. But the chemistry between Martin and Caine is fun, and Headly provides a resilient foil."

Variety called it "wonderfully crafted" and "absolutely charming" and added, "Director Frank Oz clearly has fun with his subjects, helped out in good part by clever cutting and a great, imitative '30s jazzy score by Miles Goodman."

Vincent Canby of the "New York Times said "...one of the season's most cheerful, most satisfying new comedies" and "...blithe, seemingly all-new, laugh-out-loud escapade" and "Mr. Caine and Mr. Martin work together with an exuberant ease that's a joy to watch" plus "In this season of lazy, fat, mistimed and misdirected comedies, exemplified by Scrooged and Twins, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is an enchanted featherweight folly."

Review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 87% based on 31 reviews.

Movie Trailer

 

Entire Movie (thanks to Patrick G for finding it!)