Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

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Released 5-Sep-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 105:48
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (53:53) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Frank Oz

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Michael Caine
Steve Martin
Anton Rodgers
Glenne Headly
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Miles Goodman

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, credits roll over the end of the action

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - what a lovely title for a film about con-men! This is the sort of film that I used to enjoy, made by the British, who made films like The Ladykillers, The Lavender Hill Mob, and Ladies Who Do. Movies that used to star Robert Morley, or Alec Guinness. But those days are gone, and so is the delicate wit and finesse that made those films work so well. Now we get films like this, which would have been marvellous with a delicate touch, but which have surrendered to a heavy-handed approach - perhaps so that Americans will understand? Hmm - methinks I doth profane the American wit. After all, they did make Arsenic and Old Lace. Perhaps it is just the times we live in?

    Michael Caine plays Lawrence Jamieson, a suave British con-men, happily fleecing rich women in Beaumont sur Mer on the French Riviera, aided and abetted by the local police inspector Andre (played in a suitably awful French accent by Anton Rodgers, who is better known for his work in British sitcoms). Along comes Freddy Benson (Steve Martin in "loveable clown" mode - I prefer him in Roxanne or LA Story, this is more The Jerk, or perhaps Father of the Bride), an American con-man, with no style, no panache, no class. Lawrence Jamieson looks down on Benson, and does his best to convince him to go elsewhere, but he fails. Benson demands lessons in the art from Jamieson, and Jamieson agrees, if only to control him before disposing of him.

    When Freddy decides that he can go it alone, he challenges Lawrence to a bet, the loser to leave Beaumont sur Mer so the winner can operate without interference. The bet is simple - the first to extract $50000 from a chosen woman will win. The woman chosen is Janet Colgate (Glenn Headley), the US Soap Queen.

    The plot has plenty of dirty tricks as the two try to outdo one another, and a couple of interesting twists, too.

    Yup, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is heavy-handed. But it is still funny. I lament what it could have been, but I enjoyed what it is. 

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    This disc is presented in an aspect ratio of about 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The picture is fairly sharp, with rather good shadow detail, and no low-level noise.

    Colour is fine - well-saturated, without the slightest trace of colour bleed.

    There are few visible film artefacts - what artefacts there are are so tiny as to be invisible on any normal TV screen (excepting a faint blob on the wheelchair at 60:41). There is almost no aliasing to be seen. There are no visible MPEG artefacts.

    The subtitles are available in nine languages, including English. They are easy to read, in a clear simple font. The content is accurate and well-timed. It includes some indication of sound effects.

    The disc is single sided and RSDL-formatted. The layer change is at 53:53, exactly in between scenes, making it almost invisible.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are five soundtracks, one in English (which I listened to). The English soundtrack is in Dolby Digital 5.1. The closing credits list Dolby Stereo, so the 5.1 soundtrack must be a remastering.

    This being a dialogue-driven movie, it is vital that the dialogue is clear and easy to understand. It is, with very few exceptions. There are no visible audio sync problems.

    The score is rather good, although a few of the songs chosen as background are a little clichéd: the worst example is the use of Puttin' On The Ritz while Freddy is being dressed in classy clothes. This may, in fact, be a deliberate choice, as part of a subtle joke. 

    The surrounds are not used to any significant extent. The subwoofer is well-integrated into the soundtrack, supporting the lower octave unobtrusively.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menus are static and silent.

Theatrical Trailer (1:56)

    This is a brief trailer, presented in 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced. Nothing special.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 disc is missing:

    The Region 1 disc is missing:

    I don't think we can get much more clear-cut than that, right?


    Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a pleasant-enough film, presented well on DVD.

    The video quality is rather good.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extra is rudimentary.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Tuesday, September 25, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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Comments (Add)
R1 release - Steven Cameron (read my bio)