Do you know why con artists are called so? Because they perform “confidence tricks” – they attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their confidence, used in the classical sense of trust. What they perform are called cons, scams, grifts, hustles, bunkos, swindles, flimflams, gaffles or even bamboozles.
Also known as grifters, the first ever 'confidence man' was Samuel Thompson (1821–1856). Conmen may be fascinating to you, as long as you're not the victim. Which is why so many films are made on con artists. These thrillers are loaded with twists and turns, as you'd expect (or not). Enjoy seven of the best films based on the art of conning.
The Sting (1973)
Supposedly the greatest con movie of all time, this caper film is set in 1936, involving a complicated plot by two professional grifters to con a mob boss.
The Grifters (1990)
Speaking of grifters, here's a film named after them. John Cusack is 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.
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Based on a true story, this blockbuster was directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. It is based on the life of Frank Abagnale, who, before his 19th birthday, successfully performed cons worth millions of dollars by posing as a Pan American World Airways pilot, a Georgia doctor, and a Louisiana parish prosecutor. Damn, son.
American Hustle (2013)
Directed by David O' Russell, this film boasts of an ensemble star cast of Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner and Amy Adams. No wonder it received ten nominations at the 86th Academy Awards.
Somewhere between a con film and heist film, it is inspired by the true story of MIT Blackjack Team – a group of students who used card counting techniques and more in the game of Blackjack to win millions in casinos.