Sophisticated British con man Lawrence Jamieson (Michael Caine) has made himself a career in the French Riviera, posing as the poor prince of a small war-torn country in order to seduce wealthy women into donating to his cause. However, there have been reports of an American con artist, known as “The Jackal”, making his way across Europe. So when Lawrence witnesses Freddy Benson (Steve Martin) crudely conning a woman out of $20 on a train to Beaumont-sur-Mer, he believes he’s found this Jackal. Lawrence doesn’t want this nickel-and-dime hack ruining things for him, and tries to convince Freddy that the Italian Riviera would be better suited for his skills. After his attempts to get rid of Freddy fail, Lawrence decides to take him under his wing, with Freddy taking on the role of his mentally challenged brother Ruprecht. However, Freddy becomes unsatisfied with the arrangement and wants to go off on his own. So when wealthy heiress Janet Colgate (Glenne Headly) arrives in town, the two men make a bet—the first to swindle her out of $50,000 will be allowed to stay in Beaumont-sur-Mer, while the other must head elsewhere.
Michael Caine and Steve Martin have amazing comedic chemistry. Caine plays the more elegant and refined straight man to Martin’s more wild and crazy guy. However both actors are allowed to just have fun and go over the top in their roles. For Martin, it’s when he’s playing the socially inept, child-like Ruprecht, who feels like a classic Steve Martin character. And Caine really chews the scenery as he taunts Freddy in his role as the renowned psychiatrist Dr. Emil Schaffhausen from Liechtenstein. It’s so much fun to watch as each of these con men keeps his composure and rolls with the punches when things don’t go exactly as he planned—just when one of them thinks he has the upper hand, the other manages to flip the script. Glenne Headly is also delightful, holding her own as Janet becomes the target of these two con artists.
This film may be 30 years old, but it feels just as fresh as ever, and had me laughing out loud throughout. It has a classic Hollywood film feeling to it, making use of Roaring 20’s music like “Puttin’ On the Ritz” rather than a more contemporary score. The costumes and setting also feel timeless, and not locking into the 1980s. For this 30th anniversary Blu-ray release, Shout! Factory has remastered the film from a brand-new 2K scan of the original camera negative, and the results look phenomenal! The picture is bright, clean and detailed, with a minimal, pleasant amount of film grain. You would never guess the film is 30 years old. The audio track provides clear dialogue, but not really any notable use of the the surround and stereo channels. That said, there is a nice general sense of ambiance, and the playful score sounds delightful.
For this release, Shout! Factory has ported over all of the bonus material from the previous DVD/Blu-ray releases—a 2001 commentary with director Frank Oz, a 6-minute vintage behind-the-scenes featurette, and a teaser trailer with optional commentary. Shout! has also added a brand new 23-minute interview with writer/executive producer Dale Launer. The disc comes packed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a slipcover. Like many other Shout Select releases, the insert inside the cover is reversible, giving the viewer a choice in how to display this title in his or her collection. The alternate view for this title can be seen below:
- 1080p / Widescreen 1.85:1
- Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround, English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo
- Subtitles: English SDH
All of the bonus material from the previous DVD/Blu-ray releases has been ported over. There is also one brand new interview with writer/executive producer Dale Launer.
- Commentary With director Frank Oz (1:50:29)
Director Frank Oz originally recorded this commentary for the 2001 MGM DVD release, 13 years after the theatrical release of the film. He provides an interesting and informative discussion of the film, sharing lots of behind-the-scenes stories about the filming locations, the cast, and the jovial atmosphere on set. He goes on to talk about some of the filming techniques, points out which scenes were improvised and changed during the filmmaking process, and the struggle to come up with the perfect ending. Oz also discusses the post production process, and honing down the film based on audience previews. You get a real sense of the fun it was to make this film as Oz breaks into fits of laughter as he watches the movie.
- Interview with writer Dale Launer (23:25)
In this brand new retrospective interview, writer/executive producer Dale Launer talks about some of the original pairs of actors who were in mind for the project—Mick Jagger & David Bowie, and David Niven & Marlon—and how Steve Martin was originally cast as the Lawrence character, until an audition by Richard Dreyfus as Lawrence against Martin playing Freddy changed that. Launer also discusses the struggle to get the rights to remake Bedtime Story, changing the original script to make it less sexist, some of the alternate endings in various drafts of the script including one that was deemed too racist, an alternate Ruprecht scene that Steve Martin had pushed for, and the musical version of the film.
- Vintage Featurette (6:47)
Vintage interviews with the cast and filmmakers from the set of the film. They discuss the story, the characters, the director, the crew, and the locations. Includes behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with director Frank Oz, co-writer/executive producer Dale Launer, director of photography Michael Ballhaus, costume designer Marit Allen, producer Bernard Williams, and stars Steve Martin, Michael Caine & Glenne Headly. Presented in 4:3 format.
- Trailer (1:57)
- Teaser Trailer (1:04)
- Teaser Trailer with Commentary (1:04)
Director Frank Oz talks about how this teaser trailer was specifically shot to promote the film, with footage that was not meant to be used in the film.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is one of my all-time favorite comedies, and it certainly didn’t disappoint seeing it again for the first time in a decade. It is a hilarious movie with timeless, classic performances by Caine and Martin. Shout! Factory’s new Blu-ray release provides an excellent new picture along with an interesting new 23-minute interview with the screenwriter. Fans of the film who already own the previous Blu-ray may consider a double-dip, but for those who don’t already have a copy of this film, this is a must own!