Watch Now: THE GRIFTERS
After having made movies such as My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) and Dangerous Liaisons (1988), English filmmaker Stephen Frears was in search of a new project, when none other than Martin Scorsese asked him to direct The Grifters, a neo-noir thriller Scorsese himself would produce. Based on the 1963 novel of the same name written by Jim Thompson, Frears’ adaptation follows small-time grifter Roy Dillon (John Cusack) and fellow con artists, his lover Myra Langtry (Annette Bening) and his mother Lily Dillon (Anjelica Huston). With the two women not standing one another and Roy’s con game being nowhere near theirs, saying that the trio is in for a bumpy ride would be an understatement.
The script was written by Donald E. Westlake who got an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, alongside Frears for Best Director, Huston for Best Actress and Bening for Best Supporting Actress. As part of their research and character preparation, Huston observed female dealers at card parlors, whereas Cusack, who had been smitten by the novel since 1985 and actively sought out the role of Roy, learned dice and card tricks from real grifters. Frears’ critically acclaimed con film is a gritty and complex examination of survival, betrayal, manipulation and sexuality, revolving around characters whose lifestyle implies that they are trapped inside prisons of their own making.