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12 Best Movies About Con Artists: From Ocean’s Eleven to The Producers

No experience compares to figuring out a swindler’s strategy only to fall into their trap for viewers who enjoy outwitting the actors on film. 

Con artists in films tend to make the audience think, interacting with them by challenging them to a battle of wits — then, there’s always the option of sitting back and allowing yourself to be deceived, which is just as entertaining.

These 12 films, ranging from timeless masterpieces to recent hits, include the best hustlers, thieves, and swindlers on the big screen, whether their schemes occur in a casino, a dream, or an overly convoluted string of strings.

Inception (2010) 

Saito (Ken Watanabe), one of Dom Cobb’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) prior marks, hires him for an impossible task – to implant (incept) a concept into a mark’s mind. Cobb accepts the position in the hopes of seeing his family again. 

Cobb assembles an elite squad to complete the problematic art of inception: his extraction partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon Levitt), an architecture student Ariadne (Elliot Paige), identity thief Eames (Tom Hardy), and narcotics expert Yusuf (Dileep Rao). Cobb conceals information from his ex-wife Mal (Marion Cotillard), who is out to derail the operation.

The Swindlers (1990)

Running cons is a risky — and occasionally violent — game, as evidenced by the entwined connections of long-time Los Angeles grifter Lilly Dillon (Anjelica Huston) when tensions develop between her, her son Roy (John Cusak) and his con artist lover Myra (Annette Bening). 

When Lilly discovers Roy injured after an unsuccessful con, the three are drawn into a deadly game of thievery, long scams, and murder in this neo-noir criminal thriller that will keep you guessing until the end. With so many twists, turns, and backstabbing, it’s impossible to predict who will win.

Scoundrels, Scoundrels, Scoundrels, Scoundrels, Sco (1988)

Lawrence Jamieson (Michael Caine), a sophisticated conman, acts systematically and successfully. He swindles thousands of dollars from wealthy and naive women while posing as an exiled royal. 

On the French Riviera, however, Lawrence’s established frauds are threatened by the entrance of amateur swindler Freddy Benson (Steve Martin).

The film Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Danny Ocean (George Clooney) approaches his partner in crime, Rusty (Brad Pitt), soon after his release from jail with an audacious plan for a heist: plunder three Las Vegas casinos at the same time to get revenge on his competitor, casino owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). Their scheme calls for the assistance of rookie conman Linus (Matt Damon) and eight other criminally skilled friends. 

The Paper Moon (1973)

Addie Loggins (Tatum O’Neal) becomes an orphan at nine in 1930s Kansas. With nowhere to run and no one to turn to, she finds herself at the mercy of con artist Moses Pray (Ryan O’Neal), who employs her in his schemes. 

After some early skepticism, they become a successful pair of con artists — and while referring to himself as Addie’s father has become a mainstay in Moses’s scam, the newly discovered familial relationship grows more vital with each job.

Eve, the Lady (1941)

Jean Harrington (Barbara Stanwyck) is a talented con woman who learned everything she knows about running a con from her dishonest father, and she’s determined to con wealthy heir Charles Pike (Henry Fonda) out of his fortune during an ocean liner cruise. 

The Ping (1973)

Money is scarce during the Great Depression, especially for down-on-his-luck conman Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford), who escapes after a mix-up involving a menacing criminal lord, corrupt detectives, and stolen money.

Try to catch me if you can (2002)

Catch Me If You Can is said to be primarily inspired by the story of real-life confidence man Frank Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio), and it follows a juvenile con artist through numerous “lives.” Frank, skilled in impersonation and forgery, is always one step ahead of FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks). 

The Typical Suspects (1995)

Agent Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) is perplexed by a New York case involving a ship fire that killed dozens and left only two survivors: a badly wounded mobster and a small-time con artist named Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey). 

The Creators (1967)

Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) is an aging Broadway producer who has resorted to deception to make ends meet. When his accountant, Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder), checks his books, Max discovers a potentially lucrative opportunity: if he and Leo can oversell shares on a sure-fire flop, they can make more money than if their play had done well.

Wanda is a Fish (1988)

Georges Thomason (Tom Georgeson) of London and his colleague Ken Pile (Sir Michael Palin) are preparing a highly profitable diamond theft. They’ll need the assistance of American thief Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis) and weapons expert Otto (Kevin Kline) to pull it off. 


What do con artist films typically involve?

Con artist films typically involve swindlers executing intricate strategies to trick other characters. They challenge the audience's intellect and invite viewers to try and outwit the plot.

What is the central premise of the movie “Inception”?

"Inception" revolves around Dom Cobb, who is hired to implant a concept into a person's mind. To achieve this complex task, he gathers a skilled team, but complications arise due to secrets from his past.

What is the plot of “The Swindlers”?

"The Swindlers" showcases the risky life of con artists through a story of intertwined relationships, scams, and murder. Long-time Los Angeles grifter Lilly Dillon and her son Roy get drawn into a deadly game, along with Roy's con artist lover Myra.

Who are the main characters in “Scoundrels”?

The main characters of "Scoundrels" are Lawrence Jamieson, a successful and sophisticated conman, and Freddy Benson, an amateur swindler threatening Lawrence's operations.


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