Review: ‘The Grifters’

Jim Thompson's intriguing novel about the subculture of smalltime hustlers is fashioned into a curiously uneven movie in The Grifters.

Jim Thompson’s intriguing novel about the subculture of smalltime hustlers is fashioned into a curiously uneven movie in The Grifters.

John Cusack plays Roy Dillon, a Los Angeles con man whose salesman’s job is a cover for his real vocation. Roy’s mother, Lilly (Anjelica Huston), gave birth at the tender age of 14, then fashioned a lucrative career as a roving racetrack bag lady, putting down bets for the Baltimore mob.

Roy is ministered to by his sexy girlfriend Myra (Annette Bening), who lives by her wits and her tightly wrapped body. Meanwhile, the mob boss travels west to teach Lilly a painful lesson for skimming mob money at the track.

When Roy and Myra take a holiday in La Jolla, she reveals her true colors. Myra, is an expert at the ‘big con’, elaborate swindles geared to netting five- and six-figure scores. Myra correctly suspects Roy’s little secret: a large horde of hidden cash accumulated from years of grifting.

Cusack underplays Roy, making him an unbelievable wiseguy, a colorless cipher too akin to the saps he loves to fleece.

1990: Nominations: Best Director, Actress (Anjelica Huston), Supp. Actress (Annette Bening), Adapted Screenplay

The Grifters

Production

Cineplex Odeon. Director Stephen Frears; Producer Martin Scorsese, Robert A. Harris, Jim Painten; Screenplay Donald E. Westlake; Camera Oliver Stapleton; Editor Mick Audsley; Music Elmer Bernstein; Art Director Dennis Gassner

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1990. Running time: 113 MIN.

With

John Cusack Anjelica Huston Annette Bening Pat Hingle J.T. Walsh Charles Napier
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading