A New York City doctor, who is married to an art curator, pushes himself on a harrowing and dangerous night-long odyssey of sexual and moral discovery after his wife admits that she once almost cheated on him.
Mourning his dead child, a haunted Vietnam vet attempts to discover his past while suffering from a severe case of disassociation. To do so, he must decipher reality and life from his own dreams, delusion, and perception of death.
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. Written by
The film's title is a reference to one of the oldest con tricks in the book. See more »
Susan claims that Jimmy Dell didn't get off the seaplane and her photos will prove it. Her photo can't prove it because Joe, after taking her picture, handed the camera to Jimmy Dell who wanted it so he couldn't be blackmailed. See more »
"The Spanish Prisoner" comes closer to Hitchcock than anything I've seen in a long, long time. The cast is excellent; I haven't seen Campbell Scott in a movie since he was much younger, but he really turned in a great performance, loaded with nuance and subtlety. Steve Martin is truly outstanding--I think it's fair to say that this is one of his career's best performances. The only clunker is Rebecca Pidgeon; her character is poorly written, and she's not much of an actress. Just between you and me, I think she only got the job because she's sleeping with the director (she's Mamet's wife). Ed O'Neill even shows up halfway through the film with a nice cameo.
I don't want to give away much about the story for those who haven't seen TSP, but it really is amazing. Many of the plot twists actually made me laugh--not because they were ridiculous, but because they were so ingeniously crafted and actually plausible. Since he wrote AND directed the movie, though, David Mamet let himself get away with a few bad lines and one or two hokey plot devices. In the greater context of the movie, however, they're forgivable.
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