The Grifters (1990)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

The Grifterssuperbly directed by Stephen Frears, beautifully adapted by Donald E. Westlake from a novel by Jim Thompson is a superlative, psychological drama and one of the finest film noir of the decade. In contemporary Los Angeles, Roy Dillon (John Cusack), a cynical con artist makes his living by small-time hustling. His trampy, deceptively empty-headed girlfriend Myra (Annette Bening) has bigger plans for him. These plans are foiled when Roy is badly hurt by a bartender he is attempting to … More

Rating: R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Donald E. Westlake
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 30, 1998
HBO Video


as Roy Dillon

as Lilly Dillon

as Myra Langtry

as Bobo Justus

as Cole

as Rebbing

as FBI Man

as Guy at Bar

as Simms

as Mintz

as Lieutenant Pierson

as Doctor

as Lilly (age 19-22)

as Receptionist 1

as Roy (age 5)

as Roy (age 8)

as Sailor - Spooney

as 2nd Clerk

as Drunk's Friend

as 1st Soldier

as 2nd Soldier

as 3rd Soldier

as 4th Soldier

as Cab Driver

as Arizona Motel Clerk

as Bartender

as Bartender

as 2nd Receptionist

as 1st Beachgoer

as Mintz

as Racetrack Announcer
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Grifters

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Critic Reviews for The Grifters

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (10)

Best to savor The Grifters for its handsome design -- the picture looks as clean as a Hockney landscape -- and its juicy performances.

Full Review… | November 6, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

A mannerist thriller that doesn't begin to work despite the number of talented hands involved.

Full Review… | November 6, 2009
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Cusack underplays Roy, making him an unbelievable wiseguy, a colorless cipher too akin to the saps he loves to fleece.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Top Critic

Donald Westlake's excellent screenplay does some justice to the starkness of Jim Thompson's novel; and Frears' direction never fails to grab the attention.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The Grifters is so good that one leaves the theater on a spellbound high.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

This is one human board game that's absorbing to watch.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Grifters


A forgettable outing from one of my favourite directors, unfortunately. Annette Bening is a sparkplug, Angelica Huston is electric, and the final act is a knockout. Unfortunately, the film bounces around for the first hour or more, in a way that, instead of building intrigue, is jarring and kind of confusing. Every time you think you understand what's happening with a character, the film cuts away and focuses elsewhere. It's not the three way chase that has been mastered elsewhere (see: No Country for Old Men), it's just a rote series of flashes. This film could easily have been 20 minutes shorter. But, to its credit, most of the threads dropped in the wandering earlier portion are picked up in the end, and the final half hour is gripping. Definitely an immature film from Frears, and one that was probably over-rated due to its adhesion to that weird early 90s neo-noir thing (see: Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction, etc.). If you turned it off before getting to the ending, I won't hold it against you.

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer


This is my semi-strange parallel: I see this film as a depraved, con man version of My Cousin Vinny. It's regional, it's tricky, and it's female character driven, even though the protagonist in each is ostensibly the male. But I think it's mostly because Annette Bening's character reminds me a lot of Marisa Tomei's, body hugging dress and all.

Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

ok first of all..for those who don't know what a grifter is, its when a person manipulates another individual to give them money leaving you high and dry.
this film is based on a novel and it follows a trio of con artists who are intent on out-foxing each other.
great performances and a solid script

♥Robyn M♥

Super Reviewer

The Grifters Quotes

– Submitted by Vida D (18 months ago)
– Submitted by Vida D (18 months ago)

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