Cops & Con Men: They’re All Hot Bad Boys To Me


THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY: Who's the real villain in this film?

THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY: Who’s the real villain in this film?

by Madeline Iva

I’ll confess that if there’s one kind of movie I can watch over and over again, it’s a film about con artists.  They have great lines.  They have killer suspense.  They may be bad guys, but they have to work hard at it without appearing to break a sweat.  And of course, there’s the matter of a con man’s heart.  It’s a tough nut to crack–so of course my eyeballs are glued to the screen to see if it can be done.

Here’s my top 10 Grifters movie list. Be warned, half these films are by David Mamet—I’m a bit of a fanatic for his authenticity.  I’ve given a short blurb for each film—but also highlighted the sexy where applicable.

"Oh you're a bad pony--I'm not betting on you."

HOUSE OF GAMES: “Oh you’re a bad pony–I’m not betting on you.”

1) HOUSE OF GAMES A psychologist winds up getting sucked into the world of grifting.  Her obsession only grows as she finds out she’s their mark. Mamet meets early, sexy Joe Montangna.

2) THE GRIFTERS  John Cusack is caught between conniving girlfriend and his tough as nails mother.  Events soon reveal which of these two women is the most deadly.

3) THE HEIST  Bank robbers try to con their fence.  This con movie is more of a bad break-up story between Gene Hackman (robber) and Danny Devito (his fence).  But at a certain point the film goes side-ways with the tension between Rebecca Pidgeon and Sam Rockwell (who’s acting with a bad mustache handicap) taking over everything else.

CONFIDENCE: Ed you sexy so-and-so.

CONFIDENCE: Ed you sexy so-and-so.

4)CONFIDENCE  In terms of hotness—this should probably be #1 on the list.  Ed Burns and Rachel Weiss heat up the sheets, but can they trust each other?

5) BRICK The story of a young guy conning his way up the high school food chain to get answers about his true love’s death. Not only did this film revive Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s career instantly—it’s indie chops and stylized dialogue pushes it towards the sly simplicity that reminds me of the best twisted moments I had as a teen.

6) DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS – this is the fun one on the list.  Two cons try to outdo each other to win a nice girl’s heart on a bet.  There’s a great twist at the end.  I still can’t say the name ‘Ruprecht’ with a straight face.

"I thought it was love that made the world go round." "It is--love of money."

THE HEIST: “I thought it was love that makes the world go round.” “It is–love of money.”

7) THE SPANISH PRISONER – Campbell Scott is a rather attractive mark in this film about a well mannered geek up against a syndicate of grifters led by Steve Martin.

8) SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION – Will Smith is enigmatic and coolly observant in this film, but the way the main characters scramble around dining out on their encounters with con man Smith leaves me wondering how much all of us are conning every day just to survive.

9) OCEAN’S ELEVEN – Brad. George.  Matt.  They’re dressing up for the evening to take out a casino out with every con in the book.  You just want to sit back and hang out with them while they make it look easy.

10) THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY – this story peels back the layers of the con man revealing the torment that makes him lie and kill.  Jude Law is divine as a golden boy with a heart of tin. He creates a character every bit as disturbing as Tom Ripley.

BRICK: "Maybe I'll just sit here and bleed at you."

BRICK: “Maybe I’ll just sit here and bleed at you.”

Really, this post is about con artists and how I’m fascinated by them.   But I wanted to end on a side note about cops–

Here are my two all time fav cop movies.  Have you seen them? Do you like them like I do?

MIAMI VICE is a movie about cops going so deep undercover that (as someone says in the movie) they start to forget which way is up.

Usually I don’t notice the film style of a movie, and frankly, usually I don’t care.  But Michael Mann captures a stunning, stormy Miami until it becomes an additional sexy character in the film.  There’s a great  international sensibility to the film and the action is sweeping.

Gong Li portrays that rarity in films—a whip-smart female criminal.  After watching this movie I started taking Colin Farrell seriously–even though he was rocking a serious ‘stache. (Oh Colin, just when I think I can finally dismiss you, you pull me back in).

MIAMI VICE: Colin Farrell and Gong Li in one gorgeous big-ass dramatic film.

MIAMI VICE: Colin Farrell and Gong Li in one gorgeous big-ass dramatic film.

INTERNAL AFFAIRS Another underrated Michael Mann film that’s FABULOUS is Internal Affairs.  Early Andy Garcia is muy caliente—by far his best film EVER. Richard Gere is an excellent bad guy.

Okay—Now that’s off my chest–on to the con artists, the grifters!

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4 Comments

  • Elizabeth Shore
    September 26, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Internal Affairs is definitely an underrated film! Richard Gere is such bastard, but oh! how he does bastard. 🙂

    Really fun post, Madeline! And you’ve given me some great recommendations that I’ve got to check out.

    • Madeline Iva
      September 26, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      Yes–exactly! As usual, our minds are one.

  • LizEverly
    September 26, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    I love Richard Gere. I’m definitely checking that film out. Great post, Madeline!

    • Madeline Iva
      September 26, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      Michael Mann is such an awesome director – – Last of the Mohicans and these two films are inspired.

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