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There have been people seeking to cheat others since the start of human history. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that there have been a lot of con artists, including a fair who have managed to establish themselves in the popular imagination through their sheer gall.


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A con artist is an accomplished actor, the star of an elaborate show staged to tease money from pockets. Like actors and movie-makers, con artists tell stories and create illusions. The tales are tall, the plots intricate and absorbing.

10 of the greatest con artist movies of all-time

And the audience is never sure who—if anyone—is telling the truth. Here are ten of the best swindler flicks—movies where the truth is elusive and make-believe steals the show.

This is fraud on an industrial scale, complete with fake betting shops and gambling dens and a small army of con-men recruited to pose as patrons and staff. Hooker enlists the help of veteran con man Henry Gondorff Paul Newmana character clearly modeled on the real-life swindling Chicago brothers Fred and Charley Gondorff.

Newman and Redford, together again after their triumph in Butch Cassidy and the Men Kidare at the top of their game as Top portray the con men pulling the strings. But the swindle itself is the real star of this Academy Award winner for Best Picture. The crooks are the good guys and the victim, the sneering gangster Doyle Lonnegan Robert Shawis greedy, cruel and gets what he deserves. Catch Me If You Can Abagnale did just that, impersonating a doctor, a lawyer, an airline pilot and a university professor before he was caught and reinvented himself a final time, as a law-enforcement consultant who uses his skills to con fraud.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Con games are often so outlandish that they descend into farce. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a classic comedy that mines the absurdity of the con for laughs.

Their one-upmanship and amateurish ploys make this a hilarious, over-the-top ride to a surprise ending. American Hustle This caper flick, set in the s and complete with big hair and wide lapels, features two small-time swindlers played by Christian Bale and Amy Adams forced to help federal agents catch corrupt politicians.

In the real Abscam, a convicted con man was enlisted to create a fake men as a front for agents posing Top Arab investors. Bale, Adams, and Bradley Cooper as an ambitious but naive federal agent give stellar con in a movie that explores how the line between legal and illegal blurs when law enforcement officials pose as crooks — men crooks do what they do best.

Criminal Reilly offers to younger, even smaller-time hustler Rodrigo Diego Luna when they team up for Top day of grifting in Los Angeles. Their hustles for chump change morph into the chance to con a killing when Gaddis gets wind of a plan to rip off a billionaire who collects vintage currency.

The bait is an extremely rare and valuable and of course, counterfeit silver certificate. Gaddis takes control of the scam and navigates a perfect storm of roadblocks, rivalries, and greedy partners as he and Rodrigo rush to close the deal. At least, Gaddis appears to be in control—and this keeps viewers guessing until the finale reveals all. The Brothers Bloom Most con games end with the fraudsters richer and their victims poorer, their dreams of easy money shattered.

List of con artists

Rian Johnson, writer and director of the delightful whodunit Knives Outalso wrote and directed this clever play on the thin line separating fact and fiction. Stephen Mark Ruffalo and his younger brother, with the improbable name Top Bloom Adrien Brody have been pulling cons since they were kids, and team up for one last job. The mark is a reclusive heiress Rachel Weiszwho craves excitement and s them for a globe-trotting adventure complete with men into smuggling, theft, kidnapping, and faked deaths. Deception being at the heart of the genre, of course, con everything is as it seems.

The Usual Suspects While not among the usual suspects in the con man genre, this movie is all about deception. Matchstick Men Can a con man be conned?

That question—spoiler alert—drives the plot of Matchstick Menwhich devotes plenty of screen time to the phobias and struggles of Roy Con Nicolas Cagea clean-freak who spends more time holed up in his house than fleecing victims. So does the audience. It may refer to the fact Top con men tend to adopt simple, two-dimensional personas, like the crude figures might draw. The Good Liar Acting royalty Ian McKellan and Helen Mirren are perfectly cast in the lead roles of this stylish game of cat-and-mouse.

The backdrop shifts from London to Berlin, then back in time to pivotal events that occurred in the German capital in the chaotic years during and after World War Two. Three films rolled into one to round out this list may sound men cheating, but hey, these movies are all about cheating.

The 20 most notorious con artists of all-time

Danny Ocean, a crook with class, assembles a dream team of fellow fraudsters, men skill-sets ranging from disguise to computer hacking, to pull off what appear to be impossible heists. The action shifts from the casinos of Las Vegas to the capital cities of Europe and the scripts sizzle with wit and banter. Adding even more Hollywood royalty, the acclaimed Steven Soderbergh directs all three. And that goes for all of these movies. Dean Jobb is the author of Empire of Deception Algonquin Books con HarperCollins Canadathe true story of a master swindler Leo Top, who hoodwinked the elite of s Chicago with tall tales of vast oil fields in the jungles of Panama.

Advertisers:. Privacy Policy. April 10, By Dean Jobb. Article continues after advertisement. His new book, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Creamnow available from Algonquin Books and HarperCollins Canada, recreates the hunt for a Victorian Era serial killer who murdered as many as ten people in the U. Follow him on Twitter: DeanJobb. Next Article Pollock Confidential.

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