CLOSE
YouTube
YouTube

12 Facts About Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

YouTube
YouTube

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was a more critically and commercially successful version of the film it was "remaking"—the 1964 David Niven/Marlon Brando comedy Bedtime Story. The 1988 version starred Michael Caine as classy con man Lawrence Jamieson, and Steve Martin as the more lowbrow, American upstart huckster Freddy Benson. The two make a bet that they can con Janet Colgate (Glenne Headly) out of her money, with the loser having to leave the French Riviera. Here are 12 facts you need to know about the popular con man comedy. 

1. IT WAS ORIGINALLY MEANT FOR MICK JAGGER AND DAVID BOWIE.

The two singers, fresh off their collaboration with their "Dancing in the Street" cover, wanted to do a movie together. Jagger, who found screenwriter Dale Launer's first produced screenplay Ruthless People (1986) to be brilliant, suggested that Launer write a script for them. The writer thought Bedtime Story, starring David Niven and Marlon Brando, would work for them. Launer, as instructed, thought up ways to allow Jagger's character to sing in the movie without turning it into a musical. Eventually, Launer was told Jagger and Bowie wanted a "more serious" project. In 1992, Bowie expressed displeasure at not getting to do Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. "How 'bout them apples! Mick and I were a bit tweezed that we lost out on a script that could have been reasonably good," he told Movieline.

2. AT ONE POINT, IT WAS GOING TO BE AN EDDIE MURPHY MOVIE.

Murphy had seen Bedtime Story on his uncle's recommendation. His production company, Eddie Murphy Productions, asked Launer to re-write it if they could get the rights to the movie from Universal. It would later be revealed that everyone had mistakenly thought Universal owned the rights; it had reverted back two years earlier to co-writer and producer Stanley Shapiro. Launer and his lawyer bought the rights from him. Launer then tried to sell the film to Paramount Pictures, with Eddie Murphy attached. To Launer's surprise, they said no. Murphy then dropped out.

3. IT COULD HAVE BEEN A MONTY PYTHON REUNION.

John Cleese claimed he was offered the role that would later go to Michael Caine, but he turned it down because filming would have taken place right after six weeks of publicity work for another movie. It was a decision he would later regret. Michael Palin read for Lawrence and was one of the finalists for the part.

It wasn't just former Pythoners—Richard Dreyfuss and Matthew Broderick were also in the running to star.

4. STEVE MARTIN WANTED TO PLAY LAWRENCE.

Director Frank Oz gave Steve Martin the script, and Launer was told that Martin "swooned" over it and was to play David Niven's role. Launer, however, saw him as Freddy, since Freddy was a "lout" just like Martin's stand-up persona. To Oz's surprise, Martin changed his mind.

5. IT WAS SHOT ENTIRELY IN FRANCE.

Scoundrels was shot, as was explained in the end credits, entirely on location in the south of France and at La Victorine Cote D’Azur Studios in Nice. Caine stayed in a St. Paul villa during shooting and later recalled with a laugh, "It’s tough duty, but someone’s got to do it, you know?"

6. THE TEASER FEATURED A SCENE THAT ISN'T IN THE MOVIE.

Frank Oz, believing he didn't have enough footage yet to make a good trailer, shot a scene not in the movie of Caine and Martin taking a little stroll.

7. THE CREW DIDN'T LAUGH.

When Michael Caine was asked what the most important lesson he learned in making movies over the decades, he had Scoundrels in mind. "If you’re doing a comedy and the crew laughs, it’s not funny [laughs]. I did Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Steve Martin. The crew never laughed once at anything. It’s the funniest film I ever made."

8. CAINE WONDERED WHY THEY WERE REMAKING A FLOP.

When Caine asked Oz why they were remaking a commercial flop, Oz said there would be no point in remaking a film that had been a success. That was good enough for the actor.

9. CAINE HAS A FAVORITE SCENE.

"It’s one of those films where you’re just waiting for your favorite bits to happen," he said. "For me, it’s when I’m hitting Steve’s knees playing Dr. Shauffhausen. (laughs) I’m laughing now thinking about it."

10. FREDDY GETTING UP FROM HIS WHEELCHAIR WASN'T FUNNY AT FIRST.

In a test screening, the scene didn't get many laughs, to the surprise of Frank Oz and the editors, Stephen A. Rotter and William S. Scharf. Launer then had an idea. "I suggested laying in some inspirational music, something hugely dramatic like Thus Spake Zarathustra, or Handel’s Messiah (the "Hallelujah" chorus) and they tried it, played it and it got a good solid laugh."

11. OZ AND THE EDITORS MADE A POTENTIALLY BIG DECISION ABOUT LAWRENCE.

Launer revealed that at the end of his script, it turned out that Lawrence Jamison knew all along that Janet was The Jackal. "And he’s fallen in love with her. You think he’s fallen in love with her because she’s so guileless, so honest, so decent – and then she takes him – and you feel bad for him. But, in the end, you find out he did fall in love with her, but not because of her guilelessness, but because she was such a good con artist. I think the director and editor saw that it could work either way, so they changed it. Maybe it’s better, but it’s an editing change. It’s not much different actually."

12. REBEL WILSON IS ATTACHED TO STAR IN A FEMALE REMAKE.

Two female scam artists, one being Wilson, will compete to con a naive tech prodigy out of his fortune.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Hulton Archive, Getty Images
arrow
entertainment
7 Things You Might Not Know About Audrey Hepburn
Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Though she’ll always be known as the little-black-dress-wearing big-screen incarnation of Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, there’s probably a lot you don’t know about Audrey Hepburn, who passed away in Switzerland on January 20, 1993.

1. HER FIRST ROLE WAS IN AN EDUCATIONAL FILM.

Though 1948’s Dutch in Seven Lessons is classified as a “documentary” on IMDb, it’s really more of an educational travel film, in which Hepburn appears as an airline attendant. If you don’t speak Dutch, it might not make a whole lot of sense to you, but you can watch it above anyway.

2. GREGORY PECK WAS AFRAID SHE’D MAKE HIM LOOK LIKE A JERK.

Hepburn was an unknown actress when she was handed the starring role of Princess Ann opposite Gregory Peck in 1953’s Roman Holiday. As such, Peck was going to be the only star listed, with Hepburn relegated to a smaller font and an “introducing” credit. But Peck insisted, “You've got to change that because she'll be a big star and I'll look like a big jerk.” Hepburn ended up winning her first and only Oscar for the role (Peck wasn’t even nominated).

3. SHE’S AN EGOT.

In 1954, the same year she won the Oscar for Roman Holiday, Hepburn accepted a Tony Award for her title role in Ondine on Broadway. Hepburn is one of only 12 EGOTs, meaning that she has won all of the four major creative awards: an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. Unfortunately, the honor came to Hepburn posthumously; her 1994 Grammy for the children’s album Audrey Hepburn’s Enchanted Tales and her 1993 Emmy for Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn were both awarded following her passing in early 1993.

4. TRUMAN CAPOTE HATED HER AS HOLLY GOLIGHTLY.

Blake Edwards’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s may be one of the most iconic films in Hollywood history, but it’s a miracle that the film ever got made at all. Particularly if you listened to Truman Capote, who wrote the novella upon which it was based, and saw only one actress in the lead: Marilyn Monroe. When asked what he thought was wrong with the film, which downplayed the more tawdry aspects of the fact that Ms. Golightly makes her living as a call girl (Hepburn had told the producers, “I can’t play a hooker”), Capote replied, “Oh, God, just everything. It was the most miscast film I’ve ever seen. It made me want to throw up.”

5. HOLLY GOLIGHTLY’S LITTLE BLACK DRESS SOLD FOR NEARLY $1 MILLION.

Audrey Hepburn in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'
Keystone Features, Getty Images

In 2006, Christie’s auctioned off the iconic Givenchy-designed little black dress that Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s for a whopping $923,187 (pre-auction numbers estimated that it would go for between $98,800 and $138,320). It was a record-setting amount at the time, until Marilyn Monroe’s white “subway dress” from The Seven Year Itch sold for $5.6 million in 2006.

6. SHE SANG “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” TO JFK IN 1963.

One year after Marilyn Monroe’s sultry birthday serenade to John F. Kennedy in 1962, Hepburn paid a musical tribute to the President at a private party in 1963, on what would be his final birthday.

7. THERE’S A RARE TULIP NAMED AFTER HER.

Photo of Audrey Hepburn
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

In 1990, a rare white tulip hybrid was named after the actress and humanitarian, and dedicated to her at her family’s former estate in Holland.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
entertainment
Why the Film You're Watching on HBO Might Not Be the Whole Movie
iStock
iStock

In the days before widescreen televisions, most of the movies you watched on VHS or on cable looked a little different than their big-screen versions. The sides of the image had to be cropped out so that you could watch a movie made for a rectangular screen on the small screen. Today, those little black bars on the top and bottom of the screen that allow you to watch the same movie scaled to any shape of screen are everywhere. But it turns out, cropping for aspect ratios is alive and well—on HBO, as YouTube film vlogger Patrick Willems explains.

In his latest video, which we spotted on Digg, Willems explains why aspect ratios matter, and how the commonly used aspect ratios can fundamentally change a movie.

Most old-school televisions have 4:3 aspect ratios, meaning movies had to be significantly cropped to fit wide-screen films on the small screen. Now, most computers and televisions use 16:9 aspect ratios, which is approximately the same as the one used for movies, typically 1.85:1, so many movies expand to fit TV screens perfectly. The catch: Some Hollywood movies are shot with even wider angles to show even more of an image at once. And even though viewers are familiar with the sight of those black bars, it seems the streaming sites are determined to limit their use, even for movies that don’t fit on a normal screen. As a result, you may only be seeing the central part of the image, not the whole thing. You could be missing characters, action, and landscape that’s happening on the far sides of the screen.

Since 1993, the Motion Picture Association of America has mandated that any film that’s been altered in a way that changes the original vision of its creators—say, to edit out swear words, adjust the run time, or to make it fit a certain screen—run with a disclaimer that says as much. That’s why before movies run on TV, they usually show a note that says something like “This film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit this screen.” But this doesn’t seem to apply to streaming.

In 2013, Netflix was accused of cropping films, too, showing wide-angle movies to fit the standard 16:9 screen instead of running the original version with black bars. The streaming giant claimed it was a mistake due to distributors sending them the cropped version, and those films would be replaced with the originals. However, as of 2015, users were still complaining of the problem. According to Willems, it’s a problem that still plagues not just HBO, but Starz and Hulu, too, and there isn’t any clear rationale for it other than that perhaps people don’t like looking at black bars. But frankly, that seems better than seeing a version of a film that the director never intended.

You can get all the details in the video below:

[h/t Digg]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios