The Grifters (film)

1990 film by Stephen Frears

The Grifters is a 1990 neo-noir film about a small-time conman who has torn loyalties between his estranged mother and new girlfriend—both of whom are high-stakes grifters with their own angles to play.

Directed by Stephen Frears. Written by Donald E. Westlake, based on the novel by Jim Thompson.
Seduction. Betrayal. Murder. Who's Conning Who?

Roy Dillon

  • Well, who's a boy gonna talk to if not his mother?

Lilly Dillon

  • I gave you your life twice. I'm asking you to give me mine once.


Doctor: Miss Dillon, I'm sorry about our little disagreement on the phone. And I'm really sorry about your son. Well, it's hard to believe that such a strapping young man is your son.
Lilly Dillon: Never mind that, just take care of him.
Doctor: He's had, he's had an internal hemorrhage. He's bleeding to death.
Lilly Dillon: Well, make it stop!
Doctor: His blood pressure's under a hundred. I don't think he's going to make it to the hospital.
Lilly Dillon: You know who I work for.
Doctor: There's just so much I can do.
Lilly Dillon: My son is going to be all right. If not, I'll have you killed.

Roy Dillon: It's great to get away, isn't it? Take some time off. Next week, I'll be back to work.
Myra Langtry: You already went back to work.
Roy Dillon: What?
Myra Langtry: I watched you, working the tat on those sailor boys.
Roy Dillon: Working the what?
Myra Langtry: Oh, come on, Roy, the tat. What you do for a living.
Roy Dillon: I'm a salesman.
Myra Langtry: You're on the grift, same as me.
Roy Dillon: Myra, I'm not following you.
Myra Langtry: Roy, you're a short-con operator... and a good one, I think. Don't talk to me like I'm another square!

Myra Langtry: I'm Roy's friend.
Lilly Dillon: Yes. I imagine you're lots of people's friend.
Myra Langtry: [taking a good look at Lilly] Oh, of course, now that I see you in the light, you're plenty old enough to be Roy's mother.
Lilly Dillon: Aren't we all?
Roy Dillon: Play nice. Don't fight.

Roy Dillon: You talk the lingo. What's your pitch?
Myra Langtry: The long end, big con.
Roy Dillon: Nobody does that single-o.
Myra Langtry: I was teamed ten years with the best in the business, Cole Langley.
Roy Dillon: I've heard the name.
Myra Langtry: It was beautiful! And getting better all the time.
Roy Dillon: Is that right?
Myra Langtry: It is, Roy. It's where you should be. What do you bring in, $300, $400 a week? We used money like that for tips!

Roy Dillon: Maybe I like it where I am.
Myra Langtry: Well, maybe I don't! I had ten good years with Cole, and I want them back! I gotta have a partner! I looked and I looked and believe me, brother, I kissed a lot of fucking frogs, and you're my prince!

Roy Dillon: I guess I owe you my life, Lilly.
Lilly Dillon: You always did, Roy.

Lilly Dillon: You're working some angle, and don't tell me you're not because I wrote the book!
Roy Dillon: What about you? You still handling playback money for the mob?
Lilly Dillon: That's me. That's who I am. You were never cut out for the rackets, Roy.
Roy Dillon: How come?
Lilly Dillon: You aren't tough enough.
Roy Dillon: Not as tough as you, huh?
Lilly Dillon: Get off the grift, Roy.
Roy Dillon: Why?
Lilly Dillon: You haven't got the stomach for it.

Lilly Dillon: I was hoping we could play it straight with one another.
Roy Dillon: I guess not.
Lilly Dillon: I guess you won't be getting a straight job, either.
Roy Dillon: Not this week.
Lilly Dillon: Not ever.
Roy Dillon: It's up to me. I'm strictly short con. It's nothing but small time stuff. I can walk away from it anytime I want.
Lilly Dillon: Where have I heard that before?
Roy Dillon: Yeah, but I'm in control.
Lilly Dillon: Sure. You're only 25 years old, already you can lay down four grand without even turning a hair. Grift's like anything else, Roy. You don't stand still. You either go up or down. Usually down, sooner or later.
Roy Dillon: Well, I'll let it be a surprise, then.

Roy Dillon: Do I get any say in this?
Myra Langtry: No! Because...
Roy Dillon: That's what I say. What I say is no. We don't do partners.
Myra Langtry: What is it? What's goin' on? Why don't you wanna team up?
Roy Dillon: The best reason I can think of is that you scare the hell out of me. I have seen women like you before, baby. You're double-tough and you are sharp as a razor, and you get what you want or else; but you don't make it work forever. Sooner or later the lightning hits, and I'm not gonna be around when it hits you.

Myra Langtry: My God, it's your mother. It's Lilly.
Roy Dillon: What?
Myra Langtry: Sure it is. That's why you act so funny around each other.
Roy Dillon: What's that?
Myra Langtry: Oh, don't act so god-damned innocent! You and your own mother? Ugh! You like to go back where you been, huh?
Roy Dillon: Watch your mouth.
Myra Langtry: Yeah, I'm wise to you! I should have seen it before, you rotten son of a bitch. How is it, huh? How do you like it-
[Roy slaps her so hard that she falls to the floor]


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