It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
There's something about the very words "dirty rotten scoundrel" that makes being one OK. They evoke an earlier age of simpler evils, back before everyone was playing for keeps. And the movie "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" evokes a more innocent time in the movies, too; it's a remake of the David Niven comedy "Bedtime Story," about a roguish Riviera con man bilking rich tourists out of more money than they needed in the first place.
"Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" stars Michael Caine in the Niven role as Lawrence Jamieson, a suave, aloof confidence man who seems so noble, so regal, so aloof, that gullible tourists from Nebraska have no difficulty believing he is a king in exile. Steve Martin plays Freddy Benson, a scruffy American who works the lower end of the scam ladder, accepting donations for his allegedly ailing grandmother.
They meet on a train, sort of, when Jamieson observes Benson pulling his crude routine on a tourist. When the slick European discovers that the gauche American is planning to locate in his own home territory - the wealthy Riviera resort town of Beaumont-sur-Mer - he decides to do anything possible to keep Benson out of town.
Jamieson's theory is that bad crooks pollute the water for sophisticated con men like himself.