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Good guys finish last. Meet the winners.
A 1988 Frank Oz film about con artists. Taken, and undoubtably improved, almost word-for-word from an earlier movie, Bedtime Story.
Lawrence Jamieson (Michael Caine) is a sophisticated, cultured con artist who plays on rich women visiting the French Riviera, extracting large sums from them voluntarily by masquerading as an exiled prince who needs help to regain his throne. One day, he meets a less ambitious con artist, Freddy Benson (Steve Martin), who is conning women out of money for lunch and train tickets by masquerading as an impoverished charity worker. Worried that Freddy may affect his work after he sees a newspaper article describing the con-work of 'The Jackal,' and after attempting to train him in culture and conning, Lawrence makes a bet with him: The first of them to con a selected mark out of $50,000 can stay in the area, while the other must leave. The two decide the mark is to be the apparently wealthy socialite Janet Colgate. Complications and hilarities ensue.
Became a Broadway musical in 2005. According to IMDb, a remake is in development.
This movie contains examples of:
- Adaptation Expansion: The Musical is extremely faithful to the movie, and one of the only changes that it makes are to give Andre and Mrs. Reed more character developement.
- Batman Gambit: Lawrence and Freddy use these extensively in their duel of bastardry, to see who can get $50,000 out of Janet first.
- Massive Multiplayer Scam: How Freddy and Lawrence both try to get the money from Janet.
- Out-Gambitted: both Lawrence and Freddy.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Freddy's modus operandi.
- Kansas City Shuffle: While Freddy and Lawrence are trying to con Janet, she plays along, taking them both for suckers at the climax.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Both con men are constantly revising their plans, both from the snags that they keep running into and the other's attempt to sabotage their plans.
- The Barnum: Lawrence is this, or at least thinks he is. His introductory song in The Musical is titled "Givin' Em What They Want."
- Chekhov's Skill: Subverted. After demonstrating the skills that Lawrence taught him in the Training Montage, Freddy never uses them again.
- Con Men (Lawrence Jamieson, Freddy Benson, and "Janet Colgate" herself!)
- Dirty Cop: Andre is pretty corrupt; he invades the privacy of visiting tourists, keeps a prostitute on retainer (Claudette, who keeps Freddy on the train), arrests foreigners without cause, and gets a healthy cut from Lawrence's work.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Ostensibly, at least. Lawrence Jamieson claims to only target wealthy and corrupt women, and we never see him make his words hollow.
- Gentleman Thief: Lawrence may rob these rich woman blind, but he spends it on rare art, ancient wine, and French legacy gardens.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Emperor Palpatine is the butler!
- Magnificent Bastard: Lawrence Jamieson.
- Bastard Understudy: Freddy Benson.
- Mary Sue: Janet Colgate. Done well in this case, tropes are not bad.
- Obfuscating Disability: Played for laughs.
- Pair the Spares: Andre and Mrs. Reed in The Musical.
- Pretty in Mink: Janet has a mink that she claims Freddy stole from her, along with most of her possessions, at the end. That was just part of her story to get Lawrence to give her some money.
- Spanish Prisoner: Lawrence's main scam.
- Throwing Off the Disability: Freddy pretends that Janet has cured his fake disability with The Power of Love.
- Too Awesome to Use: Lawrence's wine collection which he will never drink because "they're too valuable" and never sell because "they mean too much" too him.
- Welcome to Hell