List: The Best Movie Con Games and Grifters

Posted on February 26, 2015 at 3:45 pm

In honor of this week’s release of “Focus,” here are some of my favorite movies about con games and grifters. Remember that “con” comes from “confidence.” A con man (or woman) makes you believe in them and have confidence in their schemes. And cons make great movies. If you haven’t seen these, crank up your Neflix queue.

1. The Sting  This Best Picture Oscar winner stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford — along with the Oscar-winning ragtime score.

2. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Michael Caine and Steve Martin play con men outdoing each other in this remake of “Bedtime Story” with David Niven and Marlon Brando.

3. House of Games David Mamet is fascinated by con men, and both this film and The Spanish Prisoner are about characters caught up in elaborate cons.

4. American Hustle The FBI did actually collaborate with real-life con men in a sting operation that ended up taking down Members of Congress.  David O. Russell’s film stars Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and an unforgettable Jennifer Lawrence as one of the few people in the story who isn’t conning anyone.

5. Criminal John C. Reilly, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Diego Luna star in this remake of the twisty con story Nine Queens.

6. Confidence Dustin Hoffman gives one of his best performances as a crime boss whose bag man gets conned by Edward Burns.

7. The Music Man Professor Harold Hill sells band equipment and then skips town before it arrives, until he meets a pretty piano teacher named Marian in this most glorious of musical comedy romances.

8. The Rainmaker Burt Lancaster and Katharine Hepburn star in the story of a farm community during a drought and the man who says he can make it rain.

9. Matchstick Men A con man struggling with OCD meets his daughter for the first time.

10. F for Fake Orson Welles is something of a con man himself in this documentary about two of the 20th century’s most notorious cheaters.

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