Movie Mondays: Charming Cheats

~posted by Mike

One of the great opportunities cinema affords us is the chance to be a willing accomplice to acts we would otherwise condemn in real life. Robbery is horrible, fleecing deplorable, but with Cary Grant’s smile everything is adorable. The real magic of movies is that there are no repercussions once the house lights come up. The following films take devilish delight in depicting the most dashing and debonair grifters and shoplifters the screen has ever seen.

The heroes of Ernst Lubitsch’s marvelous Trouble in Paradise meet as they are both impersonating royalty in an attempt to rob one another. This pre-Production Code film is full of enough risqué repartee and immoral action that it was subsequently banned from movie theatres for a full three decades.

People often mistake 1963’s Charade for an Alfred Hitchcock movie. The film certainly has its share of thrills, as Audrey Hepburn is chased through Paris by shadowy characters intent on taking her fortune. But director Stanley Donen, who is best remembered for musicals such as Singin’ in the Rain, adds a lighter touch to the proceedings. Cary Grant takes a shower fully clothed for goodness sake!

What’s better than Paul Newman and Robert Redford teaming up as a pair of lovable cowboys? Why, Paul Newman and Robert Redford putting on tuxedoes to con the mob in 1930s Chicago, of course! Director George Roy Hill’s The Sting was an instant critical and commercial smash upon its release Christmas Day 1973 and it has lost none of its fun in the ensuing forty years.

It’s difficult to name any contemporary actors that possess the magnetism of the aforementioned stars but Leonardo DiCaprio makes one heck of a case for himself in Steven Spielberg’s endlessly entertaining Catch Me If You Can. DiCaprio plays real life imposter Frank Abagnale who disguised himself as a doctor, a lawyer, and an airline pilot while the FBI (headed here by Tom Hanks) doggedly pursued him across the globe in the 1960s. While Catch Me If You Can is a delightful romp, DiCaprio finally shined the spotlight on our culpability with his equally riveting performance in Martin Scorsese’s much more sinister The Wolf of Wall Street.

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