As I mentioned in my review of BLAZING SADDLES (1974), comedy is very subjective and tastes change. So it was with some trepidation that I rewatched DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS, a film I had seen as a teenager more times than I can remember.
Not as uproariously funny as I remembered it still made me chuckle quite a bit and it seems quaint (in a good way) compared to the raunchy comedies of the 21st century.
A remake of BEDTIME STORY (1964) which starred Marlon Brando, David Niven and Shirley Jones, DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS finds Michael Caine as Lawrence Jameson who plies his trade as a high target conman in the French Riviera. When Steve Martin’s American conman Freddy Benson encroaches on his turf, it devolves into a showdown of epic proportions.
Realizing that the city isn’t big enough for the two of them, they suggest a competition; who ever can fleece visiting heiress Janet Colgate (Glenne Headly) out of $50K first gets to stay while the other leaves forever.
In true screwball fashion things get out of control as they both try to one-up the other and mess with each other’s schemes. The film is classic farce and plays well in that arena.
I don’t know how younger viewers, raised on more heightened comedies might react to it, but those who enjoy a good romp should be adequately entertained. I, myself, walked away with a warm fuzzy feeling, after my recent viewing. The movie still holds up. It’s clever and funny and good spirited especially given its subject matter.