If you recognize these three, then you have enjoyed one of the funniest movies ever made – and a sad RIP to one of the stars, Glenne Headly…
Headly was terrific in this classic comedy, and she had a long career in both TV and film…a sad story to report, but she leaves us a performance in one of the best comedies of all!
“Oklahoma! Oklahoma! Oklahoma”
And of course, if you know that line, then you know that Steve Martin has NEVER been funnier:
Time to celebrate one of the best comedies ever:
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels!
Before we delve into the brilliance of this comedy, watch the hilarious trailer:
AND NOW, THE “TRAILER” ANECDOTE!
This is great trivia, courtesy of IMDB:
An entire day was spent shooting the trailer, which does not appear in the film! The trailer shows Freddy and Lawrence walking along the boardwalk, politely moving out of the way of other people, etc, with a voice saying something like “There are numerous distinguished gentlemen in the world… refined, cultured gentlemen… nice men… but nice men finish last”. As these last few lines are spoken, Freddy pushes an old lady into the water, and Lawrence shoves a kid’s face into his cotton candy!
And the scene never appears in the movie!
What a great tease for a great comedy! Let’s get into the details:
Steve Martin and Michael Caine are perfect as two con-men who meet on a train in the south of France…
Michael Caine is Lawrence Jamieson, a sophisticated man about town…Steve Martin is an idiot, but an idiot who could be dangerous… To protect his territory, Caine has Martin arrested, and Martin delivers a brilliant attempt to remember his “friend’s” name, while the Cop waits patiently outside his cell.
Freddy Benson: “I know somebody here! I met him on a train! His name… is… his name is… James. No. His name is… James Josephson. Lor. No, no, no. James Lawrence. LAWRENCE… Lawrence. Lawrence Fells. Lawrence Feings. Forest Lorenston. Low. Lars. LARS. Lawrence. Lawrence. Luch. Lawrence. Tuh. His name is James Jesenthon. Lawrence Fell. Lawrence Jesterton. LAWRENCE JESTERTON.”
Inspector Andre: “…Lawrence Jamieson?”
Freddy Besnon: “YES! We’re like this!” (he crosses his fingers)
And It Was ALL IMPROVISED!
According to the DVD commentary, when Freddy is in jail trying to remember Lawrence’s name, the entire scene was improvised by Steve Martin. Director Frank Oz was crouched out of camera range and tapped actor Anton Rodgers on the foot to interrupt Martin when Oz felt that he had gone as far as he could with the improvisation!
This is one of the greatest acting performances Martin has ever given…
Michael Caine decides to take Martin under his wing, so they begin to con older rich women out of money – with Caine the sophisticated Playboy, and Martin his idiot brother…
Lawrence Jamieson: You’ve been banging on your pots again, haven’t you? I’ve told you… if you keep on doing it, you won’t have any pots left!”
This hilarious exchange ends with Steve Martin grabbing his pot and hitting it over and over as he runs around the room, yelling the classic line: “OKLAHOMA! OKLAHOMA! OKLAHOMA!”
Another terrific moment happens as they are wining and dining a rich woman…as they are about to serve dinner, Steve Martin speaks up:
[Sitting at the dinner table]
Freddy Benson: Excuse me. May I go to the bathroom first?
Lawrence Jamieson: Of course you may.
Freddy Benson: [after a pause, and with relief on his face] Thank you.
They unsuccessfully attempt to work together only to find that this town (on the French Mediterranean coast) isn’t big enough for the two of them. They agree to a “loser leaves” bet. This bet brings out the worst in each of them…
RIP to Glenne Headly, who starred with Martin and Caine…she was perfect as the foil who brings them BOTH down!
In what is, to me, the single funniest scene in the film, as both of our con men try to seduce Headly, Steve Martin winds up in a wheelchair…and Michael Caine has delicious fun with it…to tell more would give away a moment that always has me crying with laughter…
And from there, it just gets better and better – this is, without a doubt, a tour de force in comic acting from Michael Caine, Steve Martin and Glenne Headly – a classic comedy film!
If you want to see more Steve Martin gems, including some of his funniest television moments, see my story here:
Bravo to these scoundrels!
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