Conning someone is, of course, a punishable offense and an unethical means to earn money. Despite that, we often admire and get fascinated by the con artists featured on screen in the movies.
Whether it’s Leonardo Di Caprio in Catch Me If You Can or George Clooney in Ocean’s 11, we adored their characters onscreen. Well, there’s nothing whatsoever as these characters, whether fictional or based on real life, are often glorified on-screen and portrayed as the most charming characters.
Well, that’s the catch. Isn’t it? The charm and exquisite persona are what lets most con artists excel at what they do. And, the true fact is that we are not actually fascinated by the art of conning but by the charm and confidence displayed by the con artists.
In short, there’s no need to question your ethics if you liked a con artist character in the movie or wish to follow his/her persona in your life. It’s natural and most of us desire to be as charismatic as them.
So, to offer a tribute to such desire, we present you a list of best Hollywood films based on con artists.
Best Hollywood Movies on Con Artists or Con Man
Some of the films listed here are actually based on real con artists, whereas the others are born out of the creative brains of the writers and filmmakers.
Without any further ado, let’s check out the list.
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Catch Me if you Can is a Hollywood Biopic Film, Based on the life of the famous con artist Frank Abagnale, the film Catch Me If You Can is as exciting as the title suggests. Throughout the film, you can enjoy the cat and mouse game between Frank, portrayed by Leonardo Di Caprio, and FBI Agent Carl Hanratty, played by Tom Hanks. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film shares a brilliantly crafted story featuring the life of the famous check fraudster.
American Hustle (2013)
Here’s another film on our list which is not a biopic but inspired from the FBI ABSCAM operation of the late 70s and early 80s. Directed by David O Russell, the film features an ensemble cast including Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, and Jeremy Renner in pivotal roles. Christian Bale and Amy Adams play con artists in the film.
The Sting (1973)
Basically, a heist film, the 1973 film The Sting is on our list for two reasons. The title of the film actually comes from the phrase used to describe the moment when a con artist completes the play and takes the mark’s money without him/her realizing it. Another reason is the involvement of so many con artists in a sting against the crime boss. Directed by George Roy Hill, the film was nominated in 10 different categories at the Oscars and won 7 of them.
Matchstick Men (2003)
Directed by Ridley Scott, Matchstick Men is a black comedy crime film adapted from the 2002 novel of the same name written by Eric Garcia. Matchstick Men tells the story of a con artist who realizes that he must change his ways to be a good example for his teenage daughter. However, there’s much more than just a father-daughter bonding and you must watch the film to know more.
The Grifters (1990)
The Grifters is a tale of three con artists connected to one another emotionally. Directed by Stephen Frears, The Grifters tells the story of a small-time con artist who finds himself in between the ego clashes of the two important women in his life. One of whom is his mother, while the other being his girlfriend. To add some twist to an already complex tale, both these women are also con artists and better experienced than him. Watch the film to know what happens next!
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels fits the title of this film best as this 1988 comedy film revolves around the rivalry between two con artists. A British con man, who is also an expert in conning rich woman out of their money, finds his match in an American con man who simply cons anyone and everyone for a free meal. They are up against each other to scam an American heiress out of $50,000.
Also Read: Best Hollywood Movies on Magic and Magicians
The Lady Eve (1941)
The Lady Eve is a 1941 screwball comedy film featuring the love-hate relationship between a beautiful con artist and a young heir to a large enterprise. Directed by Preston Surges, the film features Barbara Stanwyck as the con artist, whereas Henry Fonda plays the rich heir. The film is based on the story penned by Monckton Hoffe about a mismatched couple met on board an ocean liner.
Ocean’s 11 is a 1960 heist drama film directed by Lewis Milestone. The film is the first time when Danny Ocean actually assembled a team to con casinos almost 4 decades before the remake released in 2001. The film follows a heist plan devised by Danny Ocean and his friend Jimmy Foster to rob five Las Vegas Casinos on a single night. The planning, execution, and the ultimate backfire.
Also Read : Best Heist Movies of Hollywood You must Watch
Focus is a 2015 film featuring the life of a con artist who is determined and focused until a young grifter enters his life and he loses his focus. Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the film is a romantic crime comedy-drama featuring Will Smith and Margot Robbie in the lead roles. Despite mixed reviews from the critics, the film was enjoyed by the mass resulting in box office success.
Movies on con artists are basically about scamming people for their money. Well, here’s the 2010 Christopher Nolan film defying the trend of conning for money. The 2010 Sci-fi film Inception follows the life of a professional thief who can enter another person’s subconscious to retrieve valuable information. The basic plot of the film where the protagonist of the film is capable of implanting his idea into another person’s subconscious actually blew everyone’s brain out at the theatre. Thanks to Nolan’s brilliant narration, the film was appreciated and applauded globally despite such a complex story. Inception is one of the Best Mind Bending Films of All the Time.
Paper Moon (1973)
Paper Moon is an interesting comedy-drama film directed by Peter Bogdanovich. The story of the film follows the joy ride of a con man and a 9-year old orphaned girl. The con man has reluctantly agreed to drop the girl at her aunt’s house in Missouri but the duo eventually become partners in various cons. The film features real-life father-daughter Ryan O’Neal and Tatum O’Neal in the lead roles playing the con man and the 9-year old girl respectively.
Rounders is not entirely a film featuring any con artist. Instead, it follows the story of a young law student who dreams of playing in the World Series of Poker. Yet, it has few elements that qualify it to be featured on our list. Featuring Matt Damon as a rounder, someone who moves one city to another for high-stake cash games, the film is basically about will and determination of standing up once again.
Boiler Room (2000)
Boiler Room is a crime drama film based on stock brokerage scams. Directed by Ben Younger, the film features an ensemble cast of Ben Affleck, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, and others. Ben Younger got the idea of making this film after he went for a job interview at a brokerage firm. The film basically follows the life of a 19-year old young boy as a newly appointed stockbroker trainee. As he becomes a broker and learns about the dark side of the firm, he helps the FBI take the brokerage firm down for its illegal scams, Boiler Room is a famous film about Entrepreneurs and Businessman.
Blue Streak (1999)
Blue Streak is a comedy film featuring Martin Lawrence as a Jewel thief turned cop. No matter how weird that sounds, that’s the real story of the film. When one of his heist plans goes awry, he is forced to hide the stolen diamond inside a building under construction before being arrested. After his release from the reason, he is shocked to find that the building where he hid the diamond is now a police station. To get the diamond, he devises a plan to disguise himself as a cop and enter the building unnoticed. Whether he succeeds in retrieving the diamond or gets into more trouble forms the rest of the story.
Based on a true story of the MIT Blackjack Team, 21 is a heist drama film directed by Robert Luketic. The film follows the story of a bunch of MIT students led by their professor, who become a team and use their mathematical skills for card counting during blackjack games at Las Vegas casinos making a fortune out of it. However, when two masterminds collide, a series of ego clashes and rivalry begins. Whether the team reunites or gets caught in the tussle forms the rest of the story.
Over to you!
Films based on con artists are quite interesting when they are brilliantly crafted as detailing is the key to their success. Hence, we have ensured that the films mentioned on our list of best Hollywood movies on con artists are finely detailed.
It may take extraordinary skills to become a con artist but it takes mastery of different level to portray such acts on the silver screen. Let us know what you think of these movies in the comments below.