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The Grifters


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Product Details

  • Actors: Anjelica Huston, John Cusack, Annette Bening, Jan Munroe, Robert Weems
  • Directors: Stephen Frears
  • Writers: Donald E. Westlake, Jim Thompson
  • Producers: Barbara De Fina, Jim Painter, Martin Scorsese, Peggy Rajski, Robert A. Harris
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Hbo Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 30, 1998
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (219 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6304981643
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,146 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Grifters" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Annette Bening twists like a mink on a leash through Stephen Frears's adaptation of Jim Thompson's novel. This may be the perfect trope for the moral hysteria that coils around a mother, her son, and his girlfriend in this slender but highly pleasurable neo-noir. Small in effect and local in scope, the film is about small-fry, attractive, bloodless con artists who view the world as neatly split between ropers and suckers, grifters and squares. "Grifter's got an irresistible urge to beat a guy that's wise," an old-timer tells Roy (John Cusack). And yet the three characters here--played by Angelica Huston, Cusack, and Bening--only beat the innocent: Lilly (Huston) gigs at the track for a mobster named Bobo, putting wads of cash on long-shot horses to even out the odds. Roy, her son, swindles citizens by dimes and degrees, flashing twenties at bars then paying for his beer with tens. His girlfriend, Myra (Bening), is hustling herself, her salad days as a long-con roper behind her. Theirs is a world of gut punches and smart lines, and the adrenaline these cheats and chiselers live by is palpable onscreen. But a larger canvas? Maybe it's there as a parallel universe. "What do you sell again?" Myra asks Roy, the matchbook salesman. "Self-confidence," he says, a wry allusion to the confidence game all three of them are playing. The movie boasts dazzling turns by Bening, Cusack, and especially Huston, whose mère fatale breaks new ground for noir. --Lyall Bush

Customer Reviews

And what a great movie with fine acting, direction, and story telling.
SanNic44
The original DVD had a French language track, but this one has none, nor does it have any subtitles.
William M. Brady
The three leading performers are John Cusack, Angelica Houston, and Annette Benning.
guillermoj

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Daniel S. on April 29, 2000
Format: DVD
Produced by Martin Scorsese and directed by Stephen Frears, THE GRIFTERS is a winner. With three top actors, Anjelica Huston, Annette Bening and John Cusack, Frears invites us to a non-stop ride to hell.
Caught between his mother and his girl-friend, John Cusack will have a hard time to survive and become a man. You can almost touch the hate those two women feel for each other. Their last encounter is really a scene you will remember : set in Phoenix, in a motel, in a subtle variation of PSYCHO's first murder, it is a moment of great cinema.
Cusack is outstanding as the gentle grifter, Frear's cinematography is first class and Anjelica has never been so devilish. No doubt about it, THE GRIFTERS is a masterpiece of the film noir genre.
A DVD that bleeds.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By TheBandit VINE VOICE on January 6, 2003
Format: DVD
A fantastic movie about con artists. The tone of this movie is perfect: utterly unsentimental, deadpan, cool and calculated. Great score, great performances (not just the three leads, there are tons of bit parts that are very memorable), great dialogue. The pacing is snappy. I'm not going to say the movie is flawless, but honestly I can't think of anything particularly negative to say about it.
The DVD is a modest collector's edition. Some may say the extra features are a bit spare, but what is here is very useful and informative. The commentary track is consistantly listenable. There are four participants: the director, the screenwriter, and stars Cusack and Huston. The four were recorded separately and edited together seamlessly to make an entertaining and insightful track. Also here are two short but well-made featurettes, one covers the making of the film and the other sheds some light on the work of the author who wrote the book upon which the film is based.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Steven Doherty on February 12, 2013
Format: Blu-ray
Yes, Echo Bridge (the company who released this title on blu-ray) does mostly lousy work. In this case though, their Blu-ray is an obvious improvement over the SE DVD. Yes, it is in 2.0 DTS. This film was a originally released in dolby stereo (2.0), so while some might wish for the 5.1 that was created for the DVD, not having it here is no great loss. The Blu carries over the director and cast commentary from the DVD, as well as most of the other extras, so it has that going for it. As for the picture, this was a straight transfer with little effort put into cleaning it up, so yes, there are dust specs here and there but comparing this against my DVD, the picture is absolutely improved; depth, sharpness, detail are all improved upon. And because they did nothing but a straight transfer, there is no sign they used DNR on this. It looks like the film (grain and all) that it actually is. A film from the 90's shouldnt look like it was shot on hi-rez digital. Could it have been better? Sure, but what do you want for a $5 budget release? The bottom line is that it IS an improvement over the DVD. Im glad to have this great film looking the best it ever has.
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42 of 49 people found the following review helpful By William M. Brady on February 3, 2013
Format: Blu-ray
This item is already available at Best Buy stores. I bought one on Jan 31 for $5.99 thinking it was a real bargain. It wasn't.
The first thing I noticed on the box cover when I got home was that it was in Dolby 2.0, not Dolby 5.1 like the original DVD. The video itself looked like a direct un-remastered film tranfer with all its faults: dirt, scratches, jumpy frame movement, grainy dark areas, etc.
The original DVD had 22 scene selections. This blu-ray version has about half that number and none of them are related to any particular track like the original. The original DVD had a French language track, but this one has none, nor does it have any subtitles. The only extra is a director's commentary track, but the original had that and much more.
If you don't care about these things, go ahead and buy it. I wouldn't.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Loulou777 on January 3, 2005
Format: DVD
The Grifters is one of the most underrated films ever made in my opinion.

Oedipal conflicts simmer and ultimately boil over in a timeless American landscape populated by small time con artists, a brutal mafia boss and a dysfunctional mother and son whose reunion initiates many of the diverse plot twists and turns.

Houston's masterful performance is delivered with such blistering intensity that you can smell the burning celluloid as she wiggles her way across the screen.

The other performances are very fine indeed, this is definitely a movie that connoisseurs of fine acting will enjoy.

The pace is fast moving and engaging, the filmic equivalent of a page-turner, I'm easily bored and distracted, and this movie had me gripped until the final incredible scene.

One of the things I really appreciate about The Grifters are the way that the frailty of the human body is communicated realistically. No chairs splintering over people's heads or men punching each other repeatedly in the face before getting up again for more.

A swift pool cue handle jammed into in the guts is enough to cause a critical organ rupture, a small burn on the back of the hand is agonising and the damage done by a drinking glass is unimaginably worse than intended. I'm not going to even discuss the terrifying scene involving a bag of oranges. Just like in real life, violence is swift, unpredictable and causes all kinds of visible and hidden damage.

The other thing I really liked was the way that each of the characters had different personas depending on who they were relating to and the situation they found themselves in.
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