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  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
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  • Theatrical trailer

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 105 mins . PG . PAL


Re-makes are funny old things. More often than not, the purveyors of these regenerated ideas have the best intentions, but somewhere along the line (some might even say in the conception), things can tend to go askew. The results are often tragically misfired, misunderstood or even in the most extreme cases, completely unnecessary. But once in a while, as the box-office success of Ocean's Eleven has proved, you can indeed make a beautiful mountain out of a dung heap.

This is not to say that the 1963 Marlon Brando, David Niven film Bedtime Story, on which Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was largely based, is a bad film. It is however, generally concurred that that latter is much, much funnier, although, boasting Steve Martin AND Michael Caine, you wouldn't expect any less.

The story takes place in the French Riviera, where con-man Lawrence Jamison (Michael Caine) has been praying on the wealthy widows, countesses and all other manner of single women. He's good at what he does, so good in fact, it's his living. However, a spanner is thrown into Lawrence's operation when Freddy (Steve Martin), an obnoxious small-time American con man arrives in Beaumont Su Mer to do a little business. Concurring that the town is not big enough for the two of them, they become locked in an unrelenting game of one-upmanship to claim the prize of ultimate con man. The target, the ever-so naive tourist, 'American Soap Princess' Janet Colgate.

"You've been banging on your pots again, haven't you Ruprecht?"


I am thoroughly radiant in declaring that the quality of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels pretty much shattered my low expectations. It looks pretty darn flawless to be honest.

It has all the trimmings including a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer, a very decent level of colour reproduction and even some consistently surprising sharpness to the overall picture quality.

About the only thing I can really complain about was some fairly obvious instances of edge enhancement, that are most notable at the beginning of the film. There are also a few minor instances of dirt and film scratches, but nothing that could be added up towards a complaint.

Other than that, the magnificent locals used for the majority of the picture look absolutely stunning. I never remember the film being this much of a visual feast on VHS, that's for sure. Also, what the superlatively sharp image quality does for the garish '80's fashion is borderline criminal, but in a good way.


Well blow me down, who would have thunk Fox would have gone to the trouble of re-mixing this film into Dolby Digital 5.1? It just goes to show that no matter how insignificant the audio mix is for a film, it can always benefit from a remix when the opportunity arises.

Admittedly, there's not really much to freak about in terms of directionality, as most of the film is dialogue based. However the short moments where anything more is used sound-wise are just excellent. In particular, the scene where Steve Martin is copping a hefty knee caning from Michael Caine springs to mind. Youch!!

Most importantly for a film such as this, the dialogue is super-clean, without even the faintest hint of distortion anywhere in sight.


You know, they didn't not call this a 'special edition' without a reason. Nothing to play with here kids, back to the sprinklers. Can you say "Theatrical Trailer"? Well, if you can't, collect a few more DVD's and it'll be a solid, if regrettable, part of your vocabulary.

The birdie next to me is saying something about a commentary track by Frank Oz and a genuinely funny featurette being lost somewhere in the transfer from Region 1. Since these are the only things that appear to be different between the two versions, one is prone to ask why we didn't get them. It's not like a second disc had to be manufactured. Ah well, we all dream of a better world, don't we?


Quite simply, this is sidesplitting stuff. If you're a fan of either Michael Caine or Steve Martin and you haven't seen this film, then picking it up on this modestly priced, high quality (yet, bare bones) disc, is certainly something you won't regret.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1124
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      And I quote...
    "Quite simply, this is sidesplitting stuff. "
    - Ben Pollock
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Omni SL-P2000KD
    • TV:
          Palsonic 71cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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