Thursday, July 21, 2011
DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS
If I were to ask you people who Frank Oz is, how many of you could identify him as someone OTHER than the man who performs Yoda in the STAR WARS saga (that's just too damn easy!)? Could you identify him as someone who's made cameo appearances in a string of director John Landis' films? Could you identify him as the director of some very funny films like WHAT ABOUT BOB? (1991), IN & OUT (1997) and BOWFINGER (1999)? Think you could?
Let me start out by saying that after more than 20 years, I just learned that DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS is apparantly an "unofficial" remake of a 1964 film called BEDTIME STORY, which I've never seen. I never would have guessed. You learn something new everyday.
Now you might not guess it by observing English actor Michael Caine's dashing and cultivated persona, but the man can be very, very funny. Steve Martin, of course, speaks for himself. They play unwitting partners in confidence scamming as they both operate some of the deluxe hotels along the French Riviera while targeting rich and gullible women who can appreciate their style and culture. As Martin's small-time hustler character Freddy Benson puts it, "I've got culture coming out of my ass!" In fact, I have to say that Martin's portrayel of "Ruprecht The Monkey Boy" is one of the funniest things I've ever seen him do on screen. And so as the two comedically try to tolerate one another, their con begins to take shape, as well as the bet between them; whoever can get $50,000 from a naive and wealthy American heiress first will also win the privelege of being able to stay on to continue as the big "player". The loser will have to leave town. As each one attempts new and rather hilarious tactics to come out on top, we slowly find out who the target really is, and that is just an ordinary woman who would have to raise the money in order for one of our con artists to get it. Uh-oh! Looks like moral conscience might actually set in for at least one of them. But guess what happens then? The plot turns itself around as we discover that the players themselves got played...for $50,000. Do we feel bad for them? Of course not! This is comedy. It's all good.
I saw DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS in the theater at the time of its release with an old college roomate named Chris (whom I've previously described in another post). Look up the movie poster for this film to see how Michael Caine and Steve Martin are posed and keep it in mind. Whenever Chris and I would pass each other holding a drink, we would suddenly stop, look at each other, put a couple of shit-eating grins on our face and say to each other, "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels!", just to be funny (man, I miss that guy!). I have to also say that years ago I was unwillingly dragged to the Broadway musical version of this film. Very bad! In fact, I'm through wasting my time and money on Broadway musicals based on movies!
Finally, I'd like to dedicate this post to my cousin Alan, who has concluded that DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS is the "best movie ever"! When he was a kid, it was THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956). So basically, we've managed to go from the great Cecil B. Demille to the guy who does Yoda! Curious.
Favorite line or dialogue:
Freddy Benson (as Ruprecht): "Not mother?"