"He was so crooked he could eat soup with a corkscrew."
Description: Annette Bening as sexy con-artist Myra Langtry reminisces with friend, Roy Dillon (John Cusack) about a talented ex-partner named Cole (J. T. Walsh) in the motion picture The Grifters (1990).
"Grifter's got an irrisistable urge to be the guy who is wise. It's nothing to whipping a fool. Hell, fools are made to be whipped. But to take another pro, even your partner who knows you and has his eye on you, THAT'S a score."
Myra is a grifter, a con-artist whose specialty is the long con, elaborate cons that take lots of time and a partner. For ten years she teamed by a Cole Langley, the best in the business. $300 to $400 was tip money for them.
Now, Myra needs a new partner and she eyes Roy Dillon, a fellow con-artist who likes the short con - quick ways to make money, like using slight of hand tricks to fool bartenders that a ten dollar bill was a twenty, so he could get back additional change.
Roy tells Myra, "Maybe I like it where I am." She replies, "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!"
Myra then asks, "What is it? What's goin' on? Why don't you wanna team up? Roy responds, "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."
|Lilly Dillon:||Get off the grift, Roy.|
|Lilly Dillon:||You haven't got the stomach for it.|
One day, while Roy is pulling one of his small cons, he is beaten with a club which causes serious internal damage. Luckily, or unluckily, Roy's mother makes a visit to California from Baltimore where she works for Bobo Justus (Pat Hingle), a big-time bookie who runs cons at race tracks.
Roy is none to pleased to see his mother with whom he's had an incestuous relationship. He has not seen her for the last eight years. But mom realizes that her son is seriously ill and sends him to the hospital to recover, despite his objections.
Things start to go down hill when Myra meet mom. They instantly dislike each other. Myra meets Roy's mom in the hospital, and says, "Hi, I'm Roy's friend." Mom softly snarls, "Yes, I imagine you're a lot of people's friend." Myra takes umbrage at the insinuation, and declares, "Oh! Oh!, Of course, now that I can see you in the light, you're plenty old to be Roy's mother."
|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.|
As Myra continues to recruit Roy as her next partner, mom keeps getting in the way. That is until Myra oversees a stash of money in Lilly's car trunk and learns that she has been skimming profits from her mobster boss. And so like a good little crook, Myra squeals to the bad guys and Lilly is disciplined when Bobo burns her left hand with a lit cigar.
|Bobo Justus:||One question. Do you want to stick to that story, or do you want to keep your teeth?|
|Lilly Dillon:||I want to keep my teeth.|
Meanwhile, Myra has not forgotten about the money that Lilly has squirreled away and she tries to steal it, but Lilly has other plans. She kills Myra, and blows away her face so the police and Bobo Justus think it's her body. She plans to skip town and start a life somewhere else.
In need of cash, Lilly asks her son for the money that he has set aside for his own needs. Roy tentatively agrees, but demands that his mother get out of the business and take a normal job. She knows she can't do that and goes so far as to seduce him, saying "What if I told you I wasn't your mother? That we weren't really related. You'd like that, wouldn't you...I want that money, Roy. Now what do I have to do to get it? Isn't there something I can do to change your mind?"
Suddenly, Lilly grabs Roy's briefcase and slams it into his face, spilling its contents (money) on the floor. But the impact shatters the drinking glass in Roy's hand and the broken glass sheers Roy's jugular vein.
Grieving at what she has done, Lilly drops to the floor and cries over her boy's body, but then the grifter in her kicks in. She retrieves her son's blood-drenched money and leaves him behind to bleed to death. Earlier, Lilly told her son, "You don't know what I'd do" when he said, "You wouldn't do that." Well, I guess we know what Lilly is capable of now.
Hmmm? I wonder if there is a Mother's Day card for this one?