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Spanish Prisoner, The (1997)

Can you really trust anyone?

Original Title : The Spanish Prisoner
Director : David Mamet
Writer : David Mamet
Genre : Drama
Thriller/Mystery
Country : USA
Language : English
Producer : Letty Aronson , J.E. Beaucaire , Jean Doumanian , Sarah Green (I)
Music : Frank Adams (III)
Carter Burwell
William M. Hough
Joseph E. Howard
Harold Orlob
Photography : Gabriel Beristain
MPAA Rating : Rated PG
IMDB ID : 0120176
Official site : http://www.spe.sony.com/classics/spanishprisoner/main.html
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poster for "Spanish Prisoner, The" by David Mamet (1997)
Spanish Prisoner, The (1997) - David Mamet
 

Starring

Campbell Scott I
Steve Martin I
Rebecca Pidgeon Susan Ricci
Ben Gazzara Mr. Klein
Ricky Jay George Lang
Felicity Huffman Pat McCune
Richard L. Friedman Businessman
Jerry Graff Businessman
G. Roy Levin Businessman
Hilary Hinckle Resort Concierge
David Pittu Resort Manager
Christopher Kaldor Dell's Bodyguard
Gary McDonald I
Michael Robinson III
Olivia Tecosky Flight Attendant
Charlotte Potok Bookstore Woman
Paul Butler I
J.J. Johnston Doorman
Emily Weisberg Secretary
Stephanie Ross Receptionist
Elliot Cuker Antique Car Dealer
Scott Zigler Car Dealer's Assistant
Steven Hawley James, Restaurant Manager
Jordan Lage George, Maitre d'
Steven Goldstein Lawyer
Jonathan Katz I
Paul Dunn III Jailer
Tony Mamet FBI Agent Levy
Jack Wallace I
Ed O'Neill I
Clark Gregg FBI Sniper
Lionel Mark Smith Detective Jones
Jim Frangione Detective Luzzio
Allen Soule Fingerprint Technician
Mary B. McCann Policewoman (as Mary McCann
Gus Johnson II
Isiah Whitlock Jr. Trooper
Harriet Voyt Airline Employee
Kristin Reddick Airport Mother
Andrew Murphy II
Jeremy Geidt Timid Man
Carolyn 'Coco' Kallis Timid Woman
Neil Pepe Airport Security
Charles Stransky Deckhand
Takeo Matsushita United States Marshal
Seiko Yoshida United States Marshal
Mimi Jo Katano Japanese Tour Guide
Larry Blamire FBI Agent in Van (uncredited
 

Plot

Joe Ross is a rising star. He's designed a process that will make his company millions. He wants a bonus for this work, but fears his boss will stiff him. He meets a wealthy stranger, Jimmy Dell, and they strike up an off-kilter friendship. When the boss seems to set Ross up to get nothing, he seeks Dell's help. Then he learns Dell is not what he seems, so he contacts an FBI agent through his tightly-wound assistant, Susan Ricci. The FBI asks him to help entrap Dell. He accepts, a sting is arranged, but suddenly it's he who's been conned out of the process and framed for murder. Bewildered and desperate, he enlists Susan's aid to prove his innocence.
 

Comments

Joseph Ross is a researcher for a major corporation.He is in the Caribbean for a business trip to discuss his invention with the heads of the firm - a formula that stands to make the company very, very rich.While on the trip he meets the charismatic Jimmy Dell who he does a favour for and gradually befriends.As Joe starts to realise that his employers are trying to squeeze him out for his just deserves, Jimmy starts to offer him understanding and legal help to secure his end. I first discovered this film on late night sky about 5 years ago now and was very taken by it.Later I got to see it again when I had a free weekend of FilmFour (this weekend in fact!) and I was happy to see it again.The film is a con, from start to finish it is what the tagline claims - never what it seems.The whole audience know this and therefore are ready for twists and turns and it is to the film's credit that the twists are still gripping and enjoyable even if we expect it.The film has a very slow pace and is quite unshowy all the way. In one regard this is to it's detriment but it does create a film that is unassuming and all the more surprising for it.However the lack of fire works also meant that it never got the audience it deserved.I believe that, if it had gone more dramatic and tense that it would have played better in multiplexes and drawn in less patient audiences. In a rare (at the time) serious role, Martin is actually very good.He may not have a great character but he does a really good job with the two sides of his performance - even if the darker side is more revealed through Joe's fate than it is through his performance.Scott is good but is forced to play a rather bland simple man - meaning that his performance was rather bland at times.The support cast is good and features several Mamet regulars including the charismatic and distinctive Ricky Jay.Talking of Mamet, he is great as writer and director and this is yet another film that justifies his reputation in my mind. Overall this is a great film that will engage you and entertain you with it's twisty and enjoyable plot.It may lack the fireworks or heavy slick style of other films of the genre but it is all the better for it. Criminally under seen and deserves to be discovered.
 
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Spanish Prisoner, The (1997) - David Mamet
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Spanish Prisoner, The (1997) - David Mamet
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Spanish Prisoner, The (1997) - David Mamet
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