7.3/10
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264 user 98 critic

The Spanish Prisoner (1997)

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2:07 | Trailer

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An employee of a corporation with a lucrative secret process is tempted to betray it. But there's more to it than that.

Director:

David Mamet

Writer:

David Mamet
3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Campbell Scott ... Joe Ross
Ricky Jay ... George Lang
Rebecca Pidgeon ... Susan Ricci
Richard L. Friedman Richard L. Friedman ... Businessman
Ben Gazzara ... Klein
Jerry Graff Jerry Graff ... Businessman
G. Roy Levin G. Roy Levin ... Businessman
Hilary Hinckle Hilary Hinckle ... Resort Concierge
David Pittu ... Resort Manager
Steve Martin ... Jimmy Dell
Christopher Kaldor Christopher Kaldor ... Dell's Bodyguard
Felicity Huffman ... McCune
Gary McDonald Gary McDonald ... Ticket Agent
Mike Robinson Mike Robinson ... Security Person (as Michael Robinson)
Olivia Tecosky Olivia Tecosky ... Flight Attendant
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Can you really trust anyone? See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements including tension, some violent images and brief language | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 May 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La prisonnière espagnole See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$124,011, 5 April 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$10,200,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A lot of similarities to 'The Water Engine'; a made for TV movie also written by David Mamet in which an inventor creates something special which he is paranoid (rightfully so) about maintaining the rights to (unsuccessfully, in both cases.) See more »

Goofs

After he supposedly kills his friend in his apartment, he has blood on his hands. The blood dries. When he is on the subway, he scratches his nose and his hand is clean. In the next shot, his hand has blood on it again. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Airport Security: What is the purpose of your trip, please?
Joe Ross: Business.
Airport Security: Thank you and welcome to St. Estéphe.
See more »


Soundtracks

I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now
Written by Frank R. Adams (as Frank Adams), William M. Hough (as Will Hough),
Joseph E. Howard (as Joseph Howard) and Harold Orlob
Arranged by Play-Rite Music Rolls, Inc.
Played at the carousel
See more »

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User Reviews

Fabulously written but lacking the fireworks needed to make it a big hit
10 April 2004 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

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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