Grifters, hustlers, and con-artists are making their way out from the shadows and into the spotlight as 'American Hustle' thrills cinema-goers.
David O Russell’s crime caper follows Christian Bale’s elite conman forced to co-operate with Bradley Cooper’s FBI agent and put his very particular set of illicit skills to good use. It is just the latest in a long (police) line-up of fantastic films and television series to feature underhand tricks of the criminal trade.
Crime, we are consistently reminded, does not pay. But it certainly pays to play the hustler. Christian Bale can look forward to a flurry of nominations in the coming months, while Jennifer Lawrence as his firebrand wife is widely tipped to carry of a second Oscar in her loot bag. They wouldn’t be the first to have made a success out of a more morally-ambiguous role. Paul Newman built his reputation as The Hustler, a small-time pool hall shark who challenges a legend of the game. His infamous blue-eyes were the icy finishing touch in a poker face that snookered countless on-screen rivals, and he went one step further partnering with Robert Redford in long con classic 'The Sting'.
Whether scamming on the mean streets like Wesley Snipes in 'White Men Can’t Jump' or Statham’s gang in 'Lock Stock'; or if there are loftier targets in mind such as the victims of the Clooney-led 'Ocean’s 11', or the blink and you’ll miss ‘em magicians of 'Now You See Me'; con-artists always give off an unmistakable air of cool that not even Bradley Cooper’s ridiculous perm can shake off.
So, without further ado – here are our 15 favourite on-screen con artists...