In planning the heist, Rusty names a number of roles that are going to be needed to pull off the job.

Off the top of my head, I'd say you're looking at a Boesky, a Jim Brown, a Miss Daisy, two Jethros, and a Leon Spinks. Not to mention the biggest Ella Fitzgerald ever.

Which characters in the film lined up with these named roles?

  • 1
    This is a great question, it's one of those lines which flies past and you don't realise there's any more meaning to it!
    – Liath
    Jun 19, 2013 at 10:37
  • is the "identify-this-movie" tag correct?
    – db9dreamer
    Oct 24, 2014 at 5:52
  • @dav1dsm1th: It is not. I have edited it out.
    – bobbyalex
    Oct 24, 2014 at 5:53
  • They are names for standard characters or items that they require to run a 'play'. Of course, the names make sense only to them as there is no international con artists encyclopedia.
    – bobbyalex
    Oct 24, 2014 at 5:56
  • Yes, sorry, I wanted "identify this dialogue" tag ! Oct 24, 2014 at 5:57

1 Answer 1



The Boesky: Saul playing Lymon Zherga, the whale who asks Benedict to put his jewels, which are actually TNT, in the vault. if you've seen Wall Street (with Michael Douglas), you'll know about Gordon Gekko, who was loosely based on Ivan Boesky, a wall street trader who was involved in securities fraud. That's where they got the idea of Lymon Zherga, an uber-rich bankroller with insider information.

Jim Brown: the fight between Frank Catton, who's impersonating a blackjack dealer, and Linus Caldwell, who's impersonating a representative from the Nevada Gaming Commission, a fight meant to distract Benedict so Linus could pick Benedict's pocket, getting the security codes to the vault. after watching enough ESPN classic games with my dad, I learned all about Jim brown, who many people hail as the greatest football player of all time. the fight between two characters is called a Jim Brown because it's a physical confrontation, one of the cornerstones upon which the sport of football is built.

Miss Daisy: references the SWAT truck the con men used as their getaway car. Driving Miss Daisy (with Morgan Freeman) is a movie about a woman who has to get a chauffeur to drive her around. Under the guise of the SWAT truck, George, Brad, and the gang can escape without a hitch.

Two Jethros: refers to the Malloy Brothers, Turk and Virgil, the hillbilly, gear-headed types who are hired to look after Miss Daisy. In the movie, they provide general two man work like the distraction they pull with the balloons covering the security camera on the casino floor so Livingston can get into the video surveillance room.

Leon Spinks: the distraction in the form of disrupting the boxing match. An episode of NCIS had the director going home to Chicago to investigate the death of his boxer friend. In the episode, they mentioned this boxing match where Leon Spinks beat Muhammad Ali, and it was a total upset that no one expected. No one expected the power to go out in the middle of the match in the movie, either, and it created absolute chaos, which was great for our con artists.

Ella Fitzgerald: the idea to loop a tape of a robbery over Benedict's security system, a robbery which had actually been staged the previous night as a distraction while the real robbery takes place. It comes from a 1970s commercial for Memorex where a recording of Ella Fitzgerald's voice breaks a glass, then the voice over says, "Is it live or is it Memorex?". The concept is that Benedict doesn't know if the robbery he's seeing is the robbery that's actually happening.

One more post regarding this on the webz:

When Danny and Rusty (Pitt) first discuss the personnel they'll need to pull off the elaborate robbery, Rusty says, "Off the top of my head, I'd say you're looking at a Boesky, a Jim Brown, a Miss Daisy, two Jethros and a Leon Spinks, not to mention the biggest Ella Fitzgerald ever!" The references don't become clear until much later, when each conspirator's role is revealed. "Boesky," as in Wall Street fraudster Ivan Boesky, is an apparent reference to Reiner's con man Saul. "Jim Brown" (as in the 'Dirty Dozen' star) seems to refer to the confrontational distraction provided by blacklisted blackjack dealer Bernie Mac. "Miss Daisy" seems to be the getaway vehicle. The "two Jethros" are the hillbilly-like gearheads played by Caan and Affleck. "Leon Spinks" refers to the boxing match upset, caused in this case by a power blackout. And "Ella Fitzgerald"? It has to do with the videotaped robbery passed off as the real thing, a reference to Fitzgerald's famous audiotape commercials in the 1970s in which a mere recording of the jazz singer's high notes was enough to shatter a glass, prompting the slogan, "Is it live, or is it Memorex?"

And this was confirmed by Steven Soderbergh

"First of all, [screenwriter] Ted Griffin and I completely made the terms up. We felt we had to come up with some funny, Damon Runyon-esque turns of phrase that weren't arbitrary we did sit down and think them out. So, Carl Reiner is the Boesky, as in Ivan, the powerful, rich magnate, inside kind of guy. Jim Brown is the confrontation Bernie Mac has with Matt Damon the 'don't mess with me or you're in for it' moment. The two Jethros are Casey Affleck and Scott Caan, the idea being 'we're going to need gear heads, car fanatics...some people who are total hillbilly under-the-hood guys.' A Leon Spinks is the disruption of the boxing match: A sporting event with some controversy to it that's what Leon Spinks means to me. The Miss Daisy association is driving; that was the SWAT van, a ruse involving transportation. The Ella Fitzgerald is the tape of the fake vault, which they're going to play back and have [Andy Garcia's character] Benedict think it's live. 'Is it live, or is it Memorex?'"

  • 2
    Wow! Who'd had figured! And btw, excellent links.
    – Sayan
    Jun 19, 2013 at 13:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .