Think of this as a guide through each of Christopher Walken's films, starting with his first and moving forward. Each review will provide analysis, factoids and opinion on the ninety-plus films in his career.
Walken in Short: His name is Jack Shanks. (Great name, right!?) Jack is a con-artist of con-artists. This is a lead-role for Walken, and he really makes this film better than it would have been with anybody else. He has some great lines, plenty of screen-time and this is one of the few films where he plays a romantic lead.
Movie in a Sentence: Maggie (Bracco) seduces and drugs men so she can rob them, Barry (Ferrar) is her low-life partner in crime, and Jack Shanks (Walken) is the wild card who’s tracked her down and wants to hire her for one big, dangerous scam in Jamaica, but when everyone’s a con, no one can be trusted.
Director: John Flynn – known for making small but tough crime films. He did THE OUTFIT with Robert Duvall back in ’73, LOCK UP with Stallone in ’89, and OUT FOR JUSTICE with Steven Seagal in ’91. Right after SCAM, he did something different though. He directed the sci-fi horror video-game-ish thriller BRAINSCAN, starring Edward Furlong.
Writer: Craig Smith, based on the novel ‘Ladystinger‘
Duration: one hour and 42 minutes
FUN FACT: This film originally aired on the Showtime channel in 1993.
MPAA Rating: ‘R’ – There is, sadly, no nudity anywhere in this film. But there is a severed head in the mini-bar fridge. And a couple mean Jamaican dudes with knives and a sadistic streak. So, there’s that. Also, Walken gets ‘keel-hauled’. Does that count? No? Okay then. Just the severed head.
Available to Own: Alas, only on VHS, and pretty rare. I looked for it on store-shelves and in yard-sales for about 10 years before I broke down and ordered it through Amazon. Totally worth it.
Actors Other Than Walken:
Similar Films: Really any film about con-artists with a strong femme fatale element. Specifically I would point out THE GRIFTERS, THE LAST SEDUCTION, HEIST, and FEMME FATALE. Also, remember the film ENTRAPMENT (1999)? A young and flexible Catherine Zeta-Jones is hired by distinguished scoundrel Sean Connery to do “one big score”, but neither one can trust the other even though they kinda fall in love. Remember that one? Same exact thing with SCAM, although we never see Lorraine Bracco slide under a security laser-beam wearing yoga pants. Come to think of it, that’s JUST what this film needed.
Walken Content: There’s a lot of Walken in this, say: 89%. It’s basically a cat and mouse film, and even though the mouse (Bracco) is the main character, the sympathetic character, Walken is the cat. And people loooove cat videos.
Walken Quote: So Walken and Bracco are getting to know each other, and she asks him if he trusts her. He gets a glint in his eye and a smirk on his face and he says:
“I think you run scams from the minute you get up to the minute you go to sleep and dream of new ways to con little old ladies out of their life savings. That’s your profession, tricking people into trusting you. You want something to trust? Trust the $5000 I gave you.”
~ Walken as Jack Shanks
Should You Watch This? In a word, yes. Although, unless it’s recently been uploaded and offered digitally, then the only way you could watch this is to buy it on VHS. If you’re cool with that, then I say go for it. This is a nice little seedy con-man story that is elevated by the entire cast, most significantly Walken. There is a definite 90’s-television-movie feel to it, with its saxophone score, and its fashion and general tone, but that’s just part of the charm. So if you still have a working VCR, check it out.
Someone just put Scam on YouTube and the transfer isn’t too bad.